Breaking Barriers

Sheikh Amed Magghabri (left) and Rev Isaac Poobalan at St John's Episcopal Church. Picture: Hemedia

Breaking barriers is costly.  I once endured one of the most excruciating School services I have ever been to which tried to explain this.  I was on a placement in Sunderland and was dragged along to the Diocesan Schools service in Durham Cathedral.. The well meaning (but fundamentally clueless) organiser had arranged a couple of schools to act out one of those little play-let things that the Wild Goose Worship Group do so well and too many clergy do themselves badly.  The plot was OK: 2 villages fall out, build walls to separate themselves (out of crisp boxes), along comes mysterious stranger, who breaks down the barriers, dies in the process and the villagers are shocked into reconcilliation.  Sadly, the organiser reckoned without our kids from the Garths,  whose response to being hit by falling crisp boxes was to chuck them back at the other village/school across the aisle!  My abiding memory is of the the Vicar and I helpless with laughter clutching the font for support as a crossfire of Golden Wonder boxes arced like tracer across the crossing of Durham Cathedral, whilst the organiser jumped up and down shouting for the kid’s to “Stop it!” (to no avail), whilst the Bishop of Jarrow in cope and mitre looked on in a gently bemused way!

Humour apart, breaking barriers can really cost.  My friend Issac Poobalan (pictured above), a Rector in Aberdeen has opened his church to the mosque next door.  This has caught the headlines – and in a good way.  He has also been subjected to abuse on line.  Breaking barriers can cost you, even if the ranting of “trolls” is small beer compared to the cross.  Thank God some people are willing to do it still.