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  • Writer's pictureRoss Moughtin

Facing the perfect storm

Some more disturbing headlines this morning, First, another major weather event, as the US north east seaboard awaits snowmageddon. This potentially paralysing storm is expected to dump two feet of snow in just a few hours. So Washington shuts down. Then the main lead on the BBC: an interview with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. He foresees the draconian state of emergency in his country remaining in place until the "total and global war" against IS is won. Paris too hunkers down. We live in disturbing times, as so many countries across the globe are floundering: some are failing, especially those who have borders drawn with a ruler. So millions are on the move, over 60 million according to UNHCR. And stock markets collapse amid global market turmoil. We await the next financial crisis knowing that the usual economic levers no longer work. And yet life here in Aughton goes on just as usual. Some problems of course in local health provision. Residents worry about student housing taking over and the traffic lights failed in Park Road. In many ways it’s like watching the BBC national weather forecast while in Tenerife. You sit there in your shorts and T-shirt as Alex Deakin prepares West Lancashire for freezing temperatures. You feel strangely unaffected, even though you know loved ones will soon be battling against the elements. I often wonder what my parents felt when they were married in 1938. It was one of the few Saturdays my father failed to attend Goodison Park. Which is just as well, in that Everton were beaten 1 -4 by Charlton Athletic. As they walked down the aisle of Marsh Lane Wesleyan Methodist Church, were they aware how events in distant lands would impact their lives? In just two years time that fine building was totally destroyed in the Bootle blitz. The church abruptly ended. It would have been fitting had they sung Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Jesus calls us to live our lives so that no weather event, no perfect storm, can threaten us. As he concludes his sermon on the mount: “ Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24) Harry Brent was a valued colleague in Liverpool Social Services. He landed on D-Day. Sometimes he told me stories not found in military histories, on how ordinary blokes handled the appalling stress of battle. His colour sergeant was a fine figure of a man with a striking pose. Facing combat he became a simpering wreck. For Harry the surprising heroes were, in his words, “the Bible bashers.” No doubt in the barracks men who were irritating, often refusing to fit in. But on the battle field, he found them resolute: they stood the test. So for us as we live our lives for God. It is simply the case of knowing where to find security in an insecure world. As Hecate concludes in Macbeth: “And you all know, security Is mortals' chiefest enemy.” Jesus prepared his disciples, he prepares us, for terrible testing. Not just wars, earthquakes, famines and fearful events but powerful opponents. “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.” (Luke 21:12) He calls us to live realising where our security is to be found. As we read in the Message translation (Eugene Peterson going over the top somewhat): “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping.” (Luke 21:34) Simply, we are to build on this rock. All other ground is sinking stand.

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