It is hard to begin to come to terms with the fact that there has been another attack on the community in the London Bridge area.
I was just returning to the Cathedral after leading a retreat on the ‘Four Last Things’ – heaven, hell, death and judgement – meaty topics as we approach Advent. As I walked along Clink Street it felt as though time had suddenly shifted and I was back two and a half years ago as I was faced again with people literally running away from the direction of the Cathedral. I, of course, went against the tide and got into the Cathedral just as a lock-down was being put in place.
People who had come to the Friends’ Christmas Market, visitors to the Cathedral as well as our wonderful staff and volunteers were all locked down. A visiting organist began playing some gentle and calming music. I led prayers with all those there, seeking to reassure them without really knowing what was happening.
The news filtered through and as it did the police decided we were better evacuating the building. So we evacuated the place and left the cathedral behind as a cordon was thrown up around it, once again.
Now we know more, that the assailant was killed by the police after attacking a number of people, two of whom have subsequently died. Our prayers are for all of those caught up in the events, our admiration is for those, civilians and police, who went to the defence of others and risked everything in doing so.
We know that Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge and the Borough Market are special places, embodying so much about the nature of our great city, holding to a belief in the strength that comes through diversity, always knowing that acts of terror can never defeat acts of love – but at the moment it hurts.
As soon as we know when the Cathedral will be open we will let you know. But we don’t need walls in which to pray. God walks with us and in just a few weeks we will look into a manger and see just how vulnerable God is prepared to become in order to be ‘one with us’. So pray with us please, remembering the dead, the injured, the traumatised and their families.
God of unfailing compassion,
make us strong in the face of terror,
loving in the presence of hatred,
bold in our diversity,
that your hand holds us
and your life sustains us,
today, tonight and always.