OPINION: In the face of all the world’s tragedy and disappointments, there is always hope - The Dean of Ripon

The murder of another constituency MP has shocked the nation.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 3:46 pm
7 May 2020 ..... The Very Rev John Dobson, Dean of Ripon. Picture Tony Johnson

Sir David Amess was attempting to do what all MPs regard as a welcome and essential duty, making himself available to his constituents in the context of a surgery where confidential conversation is possible. This commitment to service cost him his life. At Ripon Cathedral, as in churches up and down the country, we are praying for his soul, and our hearts go out in a generous tide of sympathy for his wife and family.

As I write this article, the reason for the attack on Sir David is not yet clear. A man, 25 years of age, has been detained, we are told, and a counter-terrorism team will lead the investigation. Whatever the actual detail and motivation of this tragic incident, it is yet another reminder that the world is still far from being that perfect kingdom of justice and peace for which some of us work and pray daily, as taught by Jesus himself.

‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ Words that are close to the hearts of Christians around the world; they have been for the past 2,000 years. Are those of us who pray them deluded? Is there any sign of the remotest possibility of God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is heaven? Does the tragedy of last Friday afternoon, all too reminiscent of the murder of Jo Cox MP in this region in 2016, not leave us depressed; less able to hope? And there is plenty more in the world that might prompt such melancholy and doubt: the need for COP26; the fact that migrants are even attempting to cross the English Channel in costly and risky ways; the need for foodbanks in this nation which has one of the largest national economies on earth... the list could go on, leave us lacking in hope.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As a Christian, I have to say in the face of all the world’s tragedy and disappointments, that there is always hope. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ seemed totally hopeless. Yet, we Christians believe that the God of love, who created all things, is able to redeem the most hopeless situation. After all, we believe the powers of death and sin were conquered in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That message is the foundation of all we are and do at Ripon Cathedral, as is the case for all churches around the globe. It is Christ’s gift to the world in every situation.

One of the real joys and privileges of my ministry is that it brings me constantly into contact with people who give of themselves in the service of others, people who go the extra mile, often for those who are total strangers to them.

Last Sunday, the cathedral was privileged to host a service for The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem. An order of chivalry of the British crown, its many good works are probably known to most of us through the fantastic service of St John Ambulance. Its foundations go back to 11th century Jerusalem, where it still runs a hospital, but it has over 400,000 personnel working to safeguard and promote health in over 40 countries. This surely is a helpful reminder of just how much goodness there is in the world.

Another impressive reminder which I learned more about recently is the local Wellspring charity. Based in Harrogate, it provides a counselling service for those suffering from emotional and mental illness. This is made possible because of the skills and generosity of staff and volunteers; it is serving an urgent need at a time when the service provided by the NHS is under extreme stress as we emerge from pandemic. I look forward to their fundraising concert to be held in the Cathedral in Friday, November 12. If you want to share a joyful reason for hope, do come along and join us; see the cathedral’s website for details.