Faith at Work LXXXIII

June 2011

0ur fifth beatitude in this series of nine reads: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” [Matthew 5:7]. That’s only fair, isn’t it? But, so often, we hear about things in this world that are not. The main reason for this is that people, in the main, stay intent on ensuring that their own condition is to their liking, instead of looking outwards from a state of self-forgetfulness to others. If we have genuine concern to do God’s will, then that begins to drive our response to what we find where we are instead of where we might want to be. We begin to hear what we are called to do from the promptings of nature, from our inner being.

I’m conscious of the feeling within the GKN group, who heard earlier this year of an incident in one of their North American plants that resulted in a fire trapping two of the maintenance workers. They both suffered serious burns and one has died from his; as I write, the other is still fighting for his life. Conditions at the site I visit have been scrutinized in great detail to assess the risks present and to take action where possible to avoid a similar tragedy; no risks should be ignored – life is too precious. The two workers and their families have been remembered in a ceremony on site on Workers Memorial Day (28th April) where a cherry tree has been planted and dedicated to them.

When I started as chaplain in Telford four years ago, I was given a thorough induction including all the hazards that I might face. A clear policy on site is to ensure that each person remains aware of the dangers they are exposed to and attentive to others in their locality. Regular meetings are held to monitor safety issues and information boards display practical ways of staying safe. Lack of accidents is as important as product quality and both have equal prominence on displays at entry to the factory.

Fire isn’t always a bad thing though – it is useful and can be very special. Instances of it occur in the Bible where individuals are called to be merciful to others. Moses was addressed by God out of the burning bush and commanded to ask Pharaoh to have mercy on the Israelites and release them from slavery (Exodus 3). Abraham was called to have mercy on his son when about to sacrifice him on the altar (Genesis 22) – God had promised him that his descendants would be as plentiful as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15); without his only son Isaac, he would have no descendants at all. The apostles were all gathered together on the day of Pentecost (coming up this month) when they experienced tongues of fire on each one of them as they were given the gift of the Spirit and empowered to go out and proclaim the Lord’s mercy (Acts 2) … and, in worship, we often invite everyone to join in with our prayers using these words:

Lord, in your mercy
“Hear our prayer”

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2011-05-05

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