As many were doing the last bits of shopping yesterday, there was a place in Glasgow to grieve, as we remembered the tragedy in George Square exactly one year ago. Six people killed and so many lives affected when a bin lorry was out of control on a busy afternoon in the city centre. I needed to be there with other church leaders to weep with those who weep and to try to say something about community and the God in whom we believe.
In a service in Glasgow cathedral we stammered through prayers and borrowed others’ words in readings and hymns, trying to express communal pain and solidarity. Candles were brought forward by representatives of each grieving family and the names of those who had died were read out, followed by silence. It was not a token gesture, but an attempt by people of faith to declare that in the midst of all this mess, there is God.
The episcopalian bishop spoke with wisdom, compassion and humility as he shared with us the reality of the Immanuel God. He pointed to the rising of the human spirit in the context of crisis to be available to each other as a sign of this Immanuel God on 22nd December 2014. No one can speak for those who have lost so much, but we wept together yesterday. Perhaps we glimpsed Bethlehem too – and dared to believe that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never put it out.
I counted it a privilege to stand with other church representatives and pronounce together a blessing on God’s grieving people in that ancient sanctuary, where so many have wept before us . . . and discovered the Immanuel God.
As we make preparations for Christmas, marking the shortest day of the year (which means many hours of darkness in Glasgow), Jill has filled the house with lights. The Light shines on; and so we can walk through the shadowlands in the days ahead – whatever they bring.