Benefice of Bethersden with High Halden and Woodchurch

Know God, Show His Love, Spread His Word


Alex Bienfait

I have been keen of late to rebuild our chicken flock.  Accordingly, we recently started off a set of twelve eggs in the incubator.  We checked and candled them half way through and things were looking promising, and expectations mounted as we approached hatching date.  Sadly, the day came and went with no hatching.

After a further five days, with still no movement or cheeping from the eggs, I decided to investigate.  I found that half the eggs were unfertilised, four had partially formed embryos that had died, and only two had fully formed chicks, one still alive.  Though I knew the chances were low, I quickly put this one back in the incubator, hoping it might finish off the job of breaking free from its shell.  There was little I could do but anxiously watch and wait, occasionally taking off a bit more shell but alas, the little chick died a day later.

The presence of life is bewildering and special.  Our instinct, however tenuous the thread of life, is to protect and nurture it, and how much more so when that life is a human one.

This was apparent with the difficult case of Charlie Gard, where clinicians were faced with complex moral decisions about whether or not to continue treatment or, as eventually took place, switch off his life support machines and move him to palliative care.

We have friends whose daughter, Laura, was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive brain cancer and her doctors were very pessimistic.  Like Charlie's parents, our friends devoted all their energy into researching care options for their daughter, eventually tracking down some pioneering research in the USA. The doctors there agreed to guide a UK team into successfully treating Laura. Sometimes these desperate searches do throw up positive results.

The well-publicised case of Charlie Gard drew comments from high-profile people as diverse as the Pope and President Trump.  But we are left with a moral challenge:  God has concern for all of us, each of us is loved and known intimately.  Psalm 139:6-9

6           Where can I go then from your Spirit? *

             where can I flee from your presence?

7           If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *

             if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

8           If I take the wings of the morning *

             and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

9           Even there your hand will lead me *

             and your right hand hold me fast.

There are many other vulnerable people with their own story of need, but without the publicity that surrounded Charlie Gard. How can concern for one individual be translated into generosity for the millions whose individual story does not reach our ears? 

With good wishes
Rev'd Alex Bienfait