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Dear Friends,

The recent events at Grenfell Tower cause us to reflect upon a whole range of issues. Will it be shown that savings in the refurbishment were made at the expense of safety? Is it the case that the people living in that tower had repeatedly told the authorities that it wasn’t safe but weren’t listened to? Is it the case that a parliamentary committee has been frustrated in its attempts to bring about appropriate legislation on fire safety? Perhaps the question that really stands out is whether the fact that Grenfell Tower housed predominantly poor families made it possible for this disaster to happen when it could not have happened in accommodation for the wealthy a stone’s throw away. Despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we again see disparity in the lives of the rich and the poor. This is one of the wealthiest boroughs in Europe and yet Grenfell Tower is a stark reminder to us all of how different lives can be within a very small area of Britain, different in income, different in life expectancy, different in opportunity and different in how people are treated.

How very aware our Lord Jesus Christ was of this same issue of inequality and how often he spoke up for the poor. He held in contempt those who had religious authority, who knew the law and the rules but did not know compassion or justice. Often those in authority worked in collusion with the Roman invaders to maintain their own standing in society, their own power and wealth at the expense of the disadvantaged.

Jesus constantly referred to the poor and disadvantaged. In Luke 14 we gain great insight, that when invited to a social event we should not try to sit on the “top table” but exercise humility “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Verse 11 and verses 12 – 14 encourage us not just to invite those to our home who can return the favour but to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind and we will be blessed because they cannot repay us, for “You will be paid at the resurrection of the righteous.” You don’t need me for a modern interpretation but I do ask you, is our society too concerned about being on the “top table”, being better than ones neighbour? And who is invited to the table? Who is given the opportunities, the chances to make the most of their life? I suggest it probably isn’t the majority of the Grenfell Tower residents. When I am in that state of mind where I question what I should do next, I always return to
Matthew 22. 34-40 “ Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied:''Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”