Bishop reflects on tragedy and success

Friday September 14th 2012

In the second of his Radio Ulster ‘Thought for the Day’ talks, the Bishop of Connor reflects on the joy of Andy Murray’s tennis success and the tragedy of the Hillsborough disaster.

The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy was live on air on Friday September 14 in the second in a series of five Thought for the Day slots he is doing in the next few weeks.

The Bishop will be on air again on September 21 and 28 and October 5.

The full text of his Thought on September 14 is as follows:

I have to admit that I was one of those people who earlier this week stayed up into the early hours of Tuesday to watch Andy Murray win the five set thriller in New York.

I first learned the joy of playing tennis in the lazy summers of my childhood and teenage years. My local church, Willowfield Parish on the Woodstock Road, had two tennis courts. It was such a gift for many of us it gave us the chance to have somewhere to go and something to do.

I watch tennis today and am mesmerised by the pace and speed of the game. It was great to see Andy Murray win his first grand slam after his wonderful victory in the Olympics.

Of course it was a more familiar story for the Northern Ireland football team when they managed to grab a draw from the jaws of victory. However there is a long way to go so ‘C’mon the lads!’

I also watched the unfolding news regarding the Hillsborough disaster. I remember the day as I watched those scenes unfold on television. It was such a tragedy and it was difficult to imagine the horror for those caught up in the dreadful events of that day.

There are two things that have struck me this week as I have listened and remembered. I am challenged by the courage, dignity and resolve of the families of the victims and the survivors as to how they have had to stay strong for so long to discover the truth of what happened that day. They have campaigned and at the same time are carrying the constant pain of loss.

This is a pain that despite some awful clichés doesn’t get easier but they have had to find ways of living with it. We have witnessed in this community those who despite loss and pain have found ways of striving for justice and good. It is something we need to be grateful for and indeed salute.

The other thing that has struck me is the decision of one newspaper to make judgements on the victims because they were football fans. They have at last offered an apology.

However I find myself challenged because we do the same. This community has seen its fair share of intolerance and exclusion because of religion, gender or race. I am reminded how someone once said that I should remove the log from my own eye before removing the speck of dust from my neighbour’s eye. As someone who seeks to follow him, I have to admit that is easier said than done.

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