Homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, at an Inter-Faith service in remembrance of the victims of the Morecambe Bay tragedy yesterday afternoon in the Cathedral Church of St Peter, Lancaster. The tapestry brought to the Cathedral from Saint Mary's church, Morecambe was designed by Ray Schofield. There is no doubt what it portrays: Simon Peter and his companions on the Sea of Galilee, hauling in a net filled to breaking point with fish. But there is no less doubt, that the colours of the sky and sea reflecting the sky are those of sunset over Morecambe Bay, and the hills are unmistakably those of the Lake District. So the tapestry sets the scene for us, strangely brought together, in this place of surrender in prayer to God, this Cathedral Church, named for Simon Peter, to allow our praying, our pondering, our remembering, our responsibilities for the future, to be guided, deepened, challenged by the meetings by the Sea of Galilee, between Simon Peter and Jesus, son of Mary, of Nazareth, and by his letter from which Morecambe's Member of Parliament, Geraldine Smith, read to us this afternoon. We may begin with this word of Peter to Jesus: 'we worked hard all night, we laboured until breaking point. I think of the emergency services; and since any heart opened to, opened by a disaster such as that in Morecambe Bay finds space for others in their suffering too, I remember in your presence today those still toiling in Bam's earthquake devastation, where I was four days ago, and those confronted, again in Iran, by the exploding train near Moshad: and in the presence of all those coming close by to bring comfort and rescue and healing I say: wherever we see toil, labour, to breaking point, dedication, skill, patient endurance, going way beyond any call of duty, there we catch a glimpse of the divine. We see, in the face of sustained, cheerful, sympathetic responses, that here are actions beyond any human resources we know in ourselves; we see, as Saint Peter taught us today, actions, in fact done at God's orders, sustained, enriched, appreciated by divinity. Secondly: we are encouraged today by the word of the Lord Jesus to Peter: put out in the deep. For at such a time, I do not think I am alone in asking: is my heart deep enough, affectionate enough, warm enough, to hold those who perished in the treacherous sands, currents, tides of Morecambe Bay's deceiving beauty and serenity. Jesus says: 'put out into the depths of your heart'. As good stewards of God above, all of us are able to put ourselves at this service of others: you can, we can, I can, grieve for and mourning pray for the 20 women and men who died in Morecambe Bay, and for all those to whom they were dear, not as faceless others, but as each and everyone a unique sister, brother, uniquely loved, uniquely named, uniquely wonderful. And there is space in hearts like ours for the 40,000 who died in 15 surging, swaying, collapsing seconds in Bam, for the 300 consumed in the inferno close to the Holy city of Moshad. Our prayer, in the Holy Spirit of God, can be heartfelt, sincere. Our final step is the most challenging, the most difficult, but precisely in Saint Peter's Church, the one most full of promise for our deeply divided, torn, suffering world. One morning in Spring, Peter, who had spent the long night fishing, saw a familiar stranger on the shore; obeying the familiar stranger's instructions he cast his net and caught 153 big fish. Joy, relief, achievement, the laborious night forgotten. He knew the stranger then: Jesus. But as he stepped ashore he smelt, to his shame and horror a charcoal fire. Memories surged into his heart and mind: one cold Thursday Night, as he warmed himself by a charcoal fire, he had denied Jesus three times: the ultimate failure of a disciple; the final treachery and cowardice. But now Jesus comes to meet him by the sea where they had first met and he had set out to follow him. But Jesus will not let him forget the evil he had done, the wrong of which he was guilty. He confronts Peter with his sin. There is no superficial recognition and dealing with sin by Jesus; it is searching rigorous, thorough. The tragedy of Morecambe Bay, like the devastation of Bam, like that blazing cargo train, demands that question are asked; that inquiry is searching, rigorous, thorough; questions must be asked, wrongs named, evil confronted, guilt never ignored. But Jesus confronted Peter in such a way that by judging him, he healed him and brought him back. In this place we are impelled to dare to say: all anger, all inquiries, all judgment, not least condemnation and punishment, shall in the end serve only this purpose: A beautiful sunset for each and every one over Morecambe's glorious Bay. Source: Diocese of Lancaster
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