A stitch in time saves nine... Pastor's pen for 9th August 2020

"The 'stitch in time' is simply the prompt sewing up of a small hole or tear in a piece of material, so saving the need for more stitching at a later date when the hole has become larger." (www.phrases.org.uk)

Many of you will be aware of the total destruction of the port of Beirut and surrounding neighbourhoods due to an Ammonium Nitrate explosion this week. Questions are being asked concerning why nearly three thousand tonnes of the dangerous substance sat in a Beirut port warehouse for years in proximity to densely populated residential areas. For those not keeping up with the news, this chemical can be used to make fertiliser or bombs. It is relatively stable until exposed to significant heat, such as from a detonator or an uncontrolled neighbouring fire (in this case). It was the bomb ingredient of choice for the IRA in recent British history, but also likely to give you a good crop of beans or cabbage if you sprinkle it on your vege garden.

Beirut's port is renowned for being a conduit for the smuggling of illegal arms and other contraband by the terrorist organisation Hezbollah. Apparently they significantly control the port for this purpose. The consensus is that this current horrific debacle of death and destruction was caused by a deadly combination of incompetence, inaction and corruption. So much so that many of the desperate population are calling for the former colonial power, France, to re-take control of a nation struggling with economic meltdown, coronavirus and now this. Anger against the corrupt, controlling 'elite' is spilling out increasingly.

The critique of the mis-use of human power resulting in evil and injustice is central to our study of the book of Revelation. John's message for the oppressed churches of Asia Minor is to keep the faith and stay strong. Sometimes we need to cry out like the people of Beirut in justified anger, sometimes we pray in silence.

The folk wisdom of the proverb 'a stitch in time saves nine' reminds us that the time to pray, speak and act in the face of evil is now. Why should the devil get breathing space to flourish? Every week in world and domestic news we can find human stories that Revelation speaks into. John gives us a vocabulary that enables us to understand the world's power structures and respond in faith. May we remain a people of hope and loving action - in Jesus.

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