Rev. David Musgrave

As I was preparing to write this on a sunny afternoon in mid-October, I suddenly felt a darkening outside my study window.   An eclipse that we hadn’t been told about?  But the sky wasn’t turning grey; it was turning into a deep orange colour.  I remembered something from the previous evening’s weather forecast about the after-effects of the latest Atlantic hurricane potentially drawing in warm air from the south west.  Sure enough, the news that evening reported sightings of this strange phenomenon throughout south-eastern England, and told us that the colour was caused by a mixture of sand from the Sahara and smoke from the forest fires in Portugal.

Scripture tells us of strange lights in the sky portending the day of judgement – along with wars and rumours of wars etc.  One might have a moment of speculation about what the end of the world would actually look like.  But then comes the recognition of the real importance of this ’sign’.  Too often we believe, and some politicians tell us, that we can survive and even prosper in glorious isolation from the rest of the world, and certainly from our European neighbours.  Orange clouds in the sky remind us that climate change, bringing increased desertification in the Sahara, drier summers in southern Europe and wilder storms in the Atlantic, affects us all.  John Donne, who centuries ago told us that “no man is an island”, had it right.

As we have welcomed more refugee families into Lambeth, including the wonderful party we had at Streatham Church, we have felt that one-ness of God’s world in a different way.  Fellow human beings, standing before us and telling us something about the situations they have left behind in Syria and other places, bring home the reality to us in a way no number of television news bulletins can.  But these are not helpless victims to be pitied; they are friends to be made, people with gifts and determination to get on with their life in this country.  Let’s continue to welcome them and demonstrate in practical ways that love