Prayers at a time of tragedy

As I write this I’m hearing and seeing the news of the tragedy in George Square involving a bin lorry, unfold on twitter and news services. The accident is just about a 100 yards away from the Diocesan Office, an area I know well.

My thoughts and prayers are there and it is hard not to think that I’ll know someone who was in the square at the time it happened this afternoon.

Eternal God
at this time of bewildering tragedy in the city
help us to pray for those involved.
For those in hospital, for those who have died,
for those who rescue, for those who comfort,
for medical staff and for witnesses passing,
for all who wonder why.

Lord in your mercy.
Hear our prayer.

Not in my name. Not in my city.

Last night I was in the centre of Glasgow to see a film (the brilliant Pride movie) and then to have a drink with a couple of folk from church. This meant passing through George Square a couple of times.

It was obvious that there was something up – a small group of people had put Union Jacks all around the war memorial and had apparently previously been giving neo-nazi salutes whilst singing God Save the Queen. There are reports of homophobic abuse and abuse aimed at those wearing Yes badges too. It was an ugly reminder that all is not well in this city.

Most of the time, I don’t see much of the sectarianism that has blighted this city for so many years but this was obviously trouble coming from the loyalist side. (What it means to be loyal to Her Majesty whilst saluting like a Nazi completely escapes me). Last night’s trouble, which was contained well by the police whilst I was there, was opportunistic trouble-making piggy-backing on the referendum issues of the last few days.

I was sorry to see it and utterly condemn it. There’s no place for violence in a democracy and though Scotland has felt a deeply uncomfortable place to me for the last week, we have been mercifully free from real unrest.

Such behaviour falls outside what anyone of goodwill would want for our society, whatever any of us voted earlier in the week.

What was happening last night was unwelcome, unnecessary and completely wrong.

I hope to see no more.

Not in my name.

Not in my city.