Sunday, May 12, 2019

When the angel departed....a thought for the day for BBC Cov & Warwickshire

There’s a patch of bare earth in front of the cathedral – and a real sense that something is missing
For 8 weeks the Knife Angel occupied that spot, within sight of old and new cathedrals – and it turned out to be a really fertile ground to plant seeds of hope.
Every day for those 8 weeks we gathered close by at noon and shared the Cathedral’s Litany of Reconciliation – our trademark prayer with its two-word refrain “Father forgive” -  and followed this with a declaration of hope that invited people of all faiths and none to commit to better choices, to putting down knives and building community instead.
Over the weeks, in sunshine and rain, several thousand people must have stood to make that commitment – with its confident conclusion.
“we will each play our part – we will not be afraid – today we choose to believe in hope”.

Now, though, the angel has moved on. That’s what angels do. Right through the Bible, angels are sent as messengers from God to alert us to important things.
They usually begin with reassurance
“Do not be afraid”...and that’s good to hear if you’re confronted by a shining stranger who has apparently come from nowhere – even if he is not 27 feet high and made of knives.
But though we don’t need to be afraid, we CAN expect changes.
Angels disrupt the everyday order of life.
Think of Gabriel, telling Mary she’s going to become a single mum
Of a whole angelic choir telling some weary shepherds to leave their sheep and go and look for a baby
Of two telling some weeping women that Jesus, whom they had seen dead and buried, was no longer in the tomb but risen and alive for all time.
Angels alert us to big changes, and are always surprising. The Knife Angel has been no exception.

He’s stopped us in our tracks, gathering crowds around him at almost any hour of the day  – but his greeting was not so much “Do not be afraid” as “Beware...Things could get out of hand here – in this city and beyond but you do have a choice”….
So many people chalked their responses on the stones around or wrote commitments in the Cathedral’s Book of Hope...but now it’s time to put those words into action.
Without the angel there to inspire us, can we really commit to building a united, peaceful city?
We’ve done it in the past. Back in 1940 I’m sure the decision to commit to peace and reconciliation did not win Provost Howard many friends in a city that was wounded and grieving– but that decision, followed through by practical demonstrations of friendship to those who had once been our enemies, was the beginning of putting Coventry on the map as a city determined to use the pain of the past to build peace for the future.

That’s why the knife Angel seemed so much at home here – and, though it’s rather fanciful, I Liked to imagine him chatting quietly to our own guardian, Michael the Archangel, after dark when the crowds had gone home.

What it is that makes a city of peace? they might have pondered…
How can fragile seeds of hope be protected?
Can we help the people of this city to look into the faces of those who might be enemies, and see their own hopes and fears reflected there?

Angels never do the work for us – they just point out when we might need to take a new direction...but though the Knife Angel has gone on his way,
St Michael is still here, watching over cathedral and city alike, reminding us that the story of Coventry today is written by you and me as we make our choices.