At 2.55pm (GMT) on Tuesday the people of Beirut were going about their daily business. It was 5.55pm local time. People were heading home from work, mothers were cooking a meal for their children, children were playing outside. Along with the rest of the world their worries and concerns were about Coronavirus, economic instability, the job market, the government – and then in one minute everything changed.
As the massive explosion rocked the port district, the shockwave, felt as far away as Cyprus, sent even greater shockwaves around the world. With instant news, mobile phone footage hit our screens moments after the explosion occurred and as we saw buildings tumble, ships overturned, and cars thrown high in the air, it felt as if the shockwave had hit us to.
At this time, it is believed 137 people have died, but the number is expected to rise, thousands are injured, over 300,000 have been made homeless, and Lebanon is in a state of emergency.
Why did it happen? On top of everything the people of Beirut are going through, and have gone through for years, why did this happen? There is rumour and conjecture, calls for enquires and arrests, and all the while the emergency services, and the locals, continue to hunt through the debris, hoping, praying, that against all the odds they may still find people alive.
But the world is rallying around Lebanon. Former enemies are offering practical and financial support and it is being accepted. Nations already under financial pressure are sending aid and aid workers. Doctors and nurses from around the world, recovering themselves from the heavy workload of coronavirus, are flying in to provide medical aid.
Religious and political differences are being put to one side because at 6pm local time in Beirut they ceased to matter.
As the world rallies to help a neighbour in need, as the people of the Benefice and beyond rallied to help neighbours in need during lockdown, as the people of the world offer prayers in a multitude of languages, and offer help in a multitude of currencies, let us give thanks for the humanity and the humility of Jesus who taught us the way to live, who taught us that small acts of kindness can change lives, and who taught us the golden rule – Treat others as you would wish to be treated.
We continue to prayer for Dereck and Angela, Clive, Derrick, Judy, Judith, Margaret and any who are in need and those who have recently died and their loved ones Prue Johnson-Cadwell and Sylvia Newall.
The services this Sunday are:
West Wittering – 8am Book of Common Prayer led by Rev Sarah Manouch
Birdham – 10am Outdoor Worship led by Rev Bruce Holben and Rev Jim Mould.
who sent your Holy Spirit to be the life and light of your Church:
Open our hearts to the riches of your grace,
that we may bring forth the fruit of the spirit,
in love and joy and peace:
Through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Following Church of England guidance, it is now mandatory to wear face coverings when attending an act of worship in a church building, with the exception of the Presiding Minister, Preacher and anyone with a medical exemption.