Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

October - November 2018

 

Dear friends

How’s it going to end? By the time you read this you will know who killed the Home Secretary – or not? That is one of many intriguing questions left hanging till the end of Bodyguard, BBC’s record-breaking TV drama which has become compulsive viewing for at least 10.4 million viewers and has provoked lively speculation. The pace is compelling, the plot complex and the acting convincing – more so than the appalling incident of the Russian ‘tourists’ (aka GRU secret service assassins) who came to see our ‘famous Salisbury Cathedral’ but returned to Russia early because of the snow. Their story was so bizarre that it has been suggested they were talking in code! With two such stories running almost concurrently, and with presenters such as Andrew Marr and Laura Kuenssberg involved in both, the distinction between fiction and fact could be blurred in an age of fake news.

Both, perhaps, have this in common: a disturbing sense of corruption in high places where the truth and trust are the victims. Lurking in the shadows are those who influence events and lives apart from the democratic process. Terror and tragedy threaten from the opening scene with a fundamentalist suicide-bomber encountered by a traumatised war veteran. We can take refuge from these recognisable scenarios, knowing Bodyguard is fiction, and yet …. One crime writer has said, ‘Whodunits are mirrors, reflecting the anxieties of our times.’ The philosopher Alan Watts observed, however, that, ‘Our age is no more insecure than any other. Poverty, disease, war, change, and death are nothing new’ – indeed, they are characteristics of our world and history. He goes on to say that our anxiety is rooted in the feeling that there is ‘no future, no hope’. This is what fiction cannot give us.

This is what the last book of the Bible, Revelation, provides. Written to encourage Christians going through turbulent times, it takes us through the sweep of history, then and now: through conflicts (just see the news), famine (take note of Tearfund’s relief work on page 22) and persecution (already 1 million Christians have been killed this century). Unlike fiction where we do not know the end until the final chapter, this book invites us behind the scenes to see that we are not at the mercy of impersonal fate but that there at the hub of history is the living God who loves us and is working out his good purposes through Christ. With this confidence we can face the future with the certain hope he gives to all who trust in him. Through all life’s circumstances, God’s people have proved that the Lord is faithful, as he promised ‘he will strengthen you and guard you’ - He is The Bodyguard!

Under His protection

Nick and Harriet