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20 November 2015

Circles of Hope

Circles of Hope

It was a week ago today that shock waves reverberated out from the epicentre of Paris: ever increasing circles, not just destablilising thousands in Paris, but disturbing millions of us, causing us to ask all sorts of questions.

A card left at one of the cafes where shootings occurred simply said: “Au nom de quoi?” meaning: in the name of what?

And yet while circles of shock have emanated from Paris, I’ve been encouraged that there have been circles of hope in response.

The circle of peace:

It’s so simple. A black circle on a white background, sketched by graphic designer Jean Jullien. The merging of the peace sign and the Eiffel tower. It has been retweeted 60,000 times in the last week. The way this image has been adopted by people of all ages, races and religions is a reminder that while the footballer Gary Lineker was theologically correct in tweeting: “What a mess of a species we are!”, we are all also the one and only species made in the image of God.

The circle of solidarity:

One of the most poignant shows of solidarity has been circular in shape. After French and English football fans together sang the French national anthem – La Marseillaise – in the international friendly on Tuesday night, the two teams stood around the centre circle, alternating English and French players, for a one minute silence to together remember the Parisian tragedy.

The circle of defiance:

In each of the cafes and bars where shootings took place, there are circular bullet holes left in the shatterproof glass windows – a chilling reminder of what took place. Yet, as people have gone to pay their respects at these cafes, these small circles created by bullets born from hate, have been filled with flowers born from love – an act of loving defiance. What the flowers say visually, Martin Luther King’s much quoted message says verbally: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

The circle of hope:

The #PrayforParis hashtag may have been minimised by some in the media, yet prayer is only worth maximising in response to this tragedy because of the greatest of all circles – a circle of hope. The Prince of Peace, in solidarity with us, became one of us. Like the 129 last Friday, he was killed barbarically and unjustly.

And yet, three days later, the giant circle of a tombstone was rolled away, death defiantly defeated. Because of that circle, our prayers are not wishful thinking, words just evaporating into the night. Our Saviour with scars is a Risen Lord. His ears are attentive to our prayers. His wounded hands are stretched out to those in need of hope.

It was once declared of him: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope” (Matthew 12:20-21).

“In the name of what?” is certainly a valid question in response to the tragedy in Paris, but “in his name we can have hope” is also a valid reply.

by Jago Wynne, rector of Holy Trinity Clapham.

Image: i.imgur.com