Now I’m as much a lover of our fair city as anyone. For example in the realm of our musical heritage, I’ve always been one to celebrate that which is on our doorstep, and have taken particular delight in the name checking of 'Mancunian Way’ by Take That, ‘Longsight M13' by Ian Brown, and even as far back as Herman’s Hermits who came up with the couplet; “Ardwick Green, where the grass is grey, Beswick, Hulme and Harperhey” in their song; “It’s nice to go out in the morning”. I love Manchester, and our sense of identity, I love our creativity, smiling this morning at the poster I saw on my morning’s run which (evoking the spirit and colour scheme of ’77) stated; “never mind the terrorists, we’re Manchester!” Indeed as the late Tony Wilson proclaimed “This is Manchester – we do things differently here”.
And so it’s understandable that there has been a particular Manchester slant and emphasis in coming to terms with the Arena bombing, with 'we love Mcr' and and worker bee logos in great abundance. However, if I’m honest, I’m not sure that I’m 100% comfortable with this focus. As commented on by one of the sons of the Manchester family on Gogglebox who were filmed watching the footage: this wasn’t just an outrage against Manchester, but "against humanity”. Indeed the equally tragic slaughter of 28 Coptic Christians on pilgrimage just a couple of days later (and yet soon to be forgotten in the news) reminds us of the world wide nature of atrocities which we, for the most part, have been shielded from.
Perhaps my thinking has been partially influenced by our celebrating last Sunday of Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, with Jesus now transversing the earthly and heavenly spheres. Here Jesus takes both our humanity and human experience (both good and bad) into the Godhead, ensuring that we now have, in Him our High Priest, someone who both knows and and has felt our human condition. Jesus also goes before us as the first resurrection body to enter the heavenly realms pointing the way towards our own heavenly home. Yes – I am proud to have Manchester as my adopted city, but I am also keen to celebrate with others our hope in the New City to come.
This coming Sunday, we look forward to celebrating Pentecost Sunday in our All Age service. It will also be a Bring and Share meal. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.