I sat there, alone, on the living room floor and I wept. My family came back, and then Colin, the Baptist Pastor from the next town, rang my Dad. A Welshman himself, he'd come from nearby Abertillery, and knew Ken Hayes, the Aberfan Pastor very well. As a family, and as a church, we prayed and wept for those grieving people. Such an awful tragedy - and one for which the NCB was entirely responsible, having been warned repeatedly that the slagheap was unstable - and yet they ignored warnings and then they blamed 'environmental factors' for the disaster.
This week we have heard further news of the Chibok schoolgirls, and reports of many unaccompanied refugee children from Syria.
And my heart still aches. Last Sunday, I listened to Roy Jenkins preaching from the chapel in Aberfan. The congregation sang - in the stirring way that Welsh Choirs can do - the beautiful old hymn 'God is love, let heaven adore him'. The second verse really resonated, as I thought about the suffering of all these children and their families
God is Love: let heav'n adore him; God is Love: let earth rejoice; let creation sing before him, and exalt him with one voice. He who laid the earth's foundation, he who spread the heav'ns above, he who breathes through all creation, he is Love, eternal Love.
God is Love: and he enfoldeth all the world in one embrace; with unfailing grasp he holdeth every child of every race. And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow's iron rod, all the sorrow, all the aching wrings with pain the heart of God.
God is Love: and though with blindness sin afflicts the souls of all, God's eternal loving-kindness holds and guides us when we fall. Sin and death and hell shall never o'er us final triumph gain; God is Love, so Love for ever o'er the universe must reign.
Ken Hayes lost a son that day - but he conducted many of the funerals. Hewent on to be the chair of the bereaved parents' association. Some time later, he said these words
The end of chapter 8 of Romans is a great summary of faith - What can separate us from the love of God - It’s a passage I always use when there’s a personal tragedy or disaster and that’s a message we always try to emphasise - I am certain that nothing can separate us from the love of God, neither death nor life, neither angels or other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future…As far as we’re concerned now, we’ve still got two boys. We’re only separated for a time. One day we’re going to meet. The parting and the loneliness and being without him is terrible, but it’s not for ever.