Revd Dr Peter McGrail, Liverpool Hope University.
Good Morning. One of my favourite radio programmes is The Reunion on Radio 4; each episode brings together a group of people who were involved in some past event. The real appeal for me is that their conversations spark my own memories, as I can usually track the featured events against my own life course. So, when surviving members of the original Dr Who cast were recently reunited, I felt again what it was like to peek furtively at the TV from behind grannie’s sofa.
That is a memory to smile at – but sometimes The Reunion evokes feelings of a different nature, as did the recent programme on the 1987 fire at King’s Cross Underground station. 31 people died in a blaze ignited under a wooden escalator by a discarded match, among them one of the first firemen to reach the scene. A salutary thought for International Firefighters’ Day, which we keep today. The programme brought home the all-too adult frisson of anxiety, which as an occasional visitor to London I still feel as I make my way down into the Underground. Modern cities may seem anonymous places, but it is in them, paradoxically, that our interconnectedness can be most pronounced, for good or ill. We pass through their transport, healthcare, commercial systems just as we pass through life – in a relational web, dense with people we never meet, and of whom we are generally unaware. As The Reunion graphically reminded us, it is when something goes wrong that the interlacing of lives becomes visible, not least in those who put their lives at risk for ours.
Protect, O God, those who protect us, and open our eyes to the many helping hands that will accompany us along this day’s course. Amen.