Thursday 4 June 2009

Statement Following the Air France Plane Crash

Since we heard of the loss of the Air France plane, I have been praying for all those people, families and friends of passengers and crew, who have been affected by this tragedy. We do not know the cause of the crash - and even if we did, it would not alter the way that our hearts weep within us for all those who have lost their loved ones. On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, I send condolences to those countries whose citizens have died, and assure them of our prayers. We pray also for those engaged in attempting to salvage the wreckage, and locate the remains of those who perished, as well as those tasked with investigating the cause of the accident and working to ensure that it does not happen again.

At times of sudden tragedy, it is right that we should mourn and weep, and honestly face the depths of our grief. Inevitably we will ask questions of what has happened and why. Often there will be no easy answers - and even when we can identify some cause or contributory factors, this knowledge cannot turn back the clock, and restore to us those whom we have lost. At such times God promises to be a strong, safe refuge. He understands the pains of human mortality. God in Jesus Christ wept at the death of his friend; and himself was prepared to suffer death and pain, on the cross, for our sakes - and so his love and compassion, wrought in the trials of his own experience, can touch us tenderly in our own pain. More than this, his resurrection offers us all a sure hope and comfort that death need not have the final word, as he encourages us to put our hand in his and find in him the reassurance that we need in times of fear and sorrow.

This then, is my prayer today, for all who grieve for the loss of life in the Air France plane crash. And it is my prayer for everyone who faces tragedy and loss, and the trauma of death: may God, as we know him in Jesus Christ, be for us a source of hope, strength, and comfort - a light by which we can dare to go on walking, in our darkest hour.

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