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  • Jenny Smyth

So Full Of Life

100,000 deaths in the UK attributable to the pandemic…a shocking statistic.

Yesterday morning, Dan Walker interviewed Archbishop Justin Welby on BBC Breakfast. It was a compassionate and helpful discussion around loss, grief and regret, but also about hope and the future...

"Many people are looking for hope… Where do you find hope?"
"I find hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ…That’s the central core belief…God came and shared our sorrows - He is in the middle of this mess, He is alongside us. He came and He conquered death, death no longer has the last word. God has the last word. "Where I see hope worked out is… in the love that we receive being passed on to other people – in that I see in hospitals, in neighbours caring for each other -this wonderful outflowing of community support…"
"How loss has affected you?"

Archbishop Justin went on to share the pain of loss he experienced when his ‘immensely close friend’ died suddenly at the age of 40, without access to good health care. That friend was Bishop Desire Makanirwa of Goma Diocese, DR Congo - a much cherished partner of CMSI.

Bishop Desire was full of life, a wonderfully cheerful person, a tonic to be with. He was also living and ministering in a situation of militia warfare, the challenge of Ebola and in a country broken by political misrule. CMSI was privileged to partner with Bishop Desire, his lovely wife Claudeline, and the Church in Goma. On visits to Goma we always found a warm welcome, a considerate host and someone of hope-filled vision.

Parishes in Ireland supported Bishop Desire’s work as a peace maker, who planted new communities of faith amongst marginalised displaced people, lifted those entrenched in poverty with practical help and, most astonishingly of all, facilitated peace and reconciliation between perpetrators of the most horrendous and cruel crimes with folk from the communities where those atrocities had been wreaked. Ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit repentance was met with forgiveness, bitterness and hate relinquished, peace made possible.

Archbishop Justin also spoke of a third hopeful sign:

"..a growing determination to build better in the future…we don’t want to live in a country where there is inequality of health, where there are inequalities and injustices – we are going to do things that work better for all of us."

During this pandemic the number of people in food stress has doubled, the rich poor gap has increased and the impacts have hit the most marginalised hardest.

So the challenge is to cling on in faith to our God who has overcome death, so that together as His Church, with hope-filled vision and deep joy, we can work to transform unjust structures and gross inequalities, in our own neighbourhoods and across the world.

I am inspired by Bishop Desire – a hero of hope – and rejoice in God’s promise that there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain when God’s kingdom comes.

‘Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.’ (Rev 22:17).



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