Blessed are those who are persecuted.

Last night my husband and I decided to catch up and watch Gunpowder on BBC iPlayer. I didn’t really know the detailed story of the gunpowder plot I just knew that on November 5th it was bonfire night. 

As the programme began I quickly realised that this story was meaning more to me than I realised. I watched the priest and his two ordinands hide away after mass in a private house so they would not be captured. My heart was in my mouth when the group sent to find the priest grew closer and closer to his hiding place. It looked like the priest and one of the ordinands were going to be caught, however the other ordinand, hidden in a window seat, made a noise to distract the men. Unfortunately he was found and he was taken away with the lady of the house.

As I sat there watching, I had a huge sense of sadness.  As the story progressed on, the ordinand and the woman suffer terrible deaths with the name of Jesus on their lips as they suffered. I was physically upset with grief for the violent death of Christians and of Christians killing each other. How much our Heavenly Father must weep with such loss!

As I buttoned up my cassock this morning, I still felt heavy with the thoughts of the persecuted in the past and today. I imagined if myself and my vicar had to suddenly hide at church because it was illegal to worship. 

Would I, like the ordinand in Gunpowder do everything I could to ensure Christians could continue to worship in the name of Jesus?

Yes I would.

According to Open Doors, 322 Christians are killed every month for their faith around the world. As we celebrated All Saints day today the thought of those who perish every month felt heavy in my heart. I thought about how they are now safe in the arms of our lord Jesus Christ and how I must remember to be so thankful that I can be an ordinand and not worry about having to hide or fear for my life.

Jesus says “blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12)

My prayer today is for the persecuted Christians around the world and those who have lost their lives in times past due to their calling to follow Jesus.

May our loving Lord hold them close as they rise in glory, in everlasting peace. 

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