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The Word on the Week

Hillsborough Revisited

The semi-final of the FA Cup between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest took place in Sheffield on Saturday 15 April, 1989. The Liverpool fans were allocated an inadequate portion of the ground in an effort to keep them away from Nots Forest supporters both inside and outside the stadium.
In the ensuing crush 96 died and 766 were injured.
The police, in the most monumental cover-up in their history, blamed drunken fans.
A number of enquiries failed to get to the facts until 2014 when after 300 days of evidence the verdict of “Unlawful Killing” was handed down this week.

The enquiry revealed 164 police statements had been altered and 55 Officers changed their statements in an effort to exonerate themselves and incriminate the fans.
The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police has been suspended. The Chief Superintendent, a novice in policing Football Stadiums at the time, admitted he had lied.

The “Sun” who vilified the fans on their front page in 1989 published an apology this week on page 10. The paper’s circulation in Liverpool never recovered and it seems never will!
The Independent Police Complaints Commission were thorough. They interviewed 1,444 serving and former police officers in their efforts to uncover the truth. It is now over to the Crown Prosecution Service to see what remains to be done by way of justice for those who have suffered.

“Woman, I do not know him.” Peter’s retort to the servant girl who recognised he was a follower of Jesus St Luke chapter 22 verse 57). He had been courageous enough to enter the High Priest’s courtyard where Jesus was being tried. He had prepared himself for that ordeal. But he was not prepared for the accusation that he was guilty by association to his Master.
The default mode of our lives is so often denial. Confession does not come easy.
When faced with the evidence of our guilt we look around for someone else to pin it on.
You ask the child why his sister is crying and he will tell you she must have hit herself!
When we do something wrong we point to something or someone outside ourselves as the reason for our lapse in behaviour…the traffic was brutal…she knows how to rub me up the wrong way…the boss brings out the worst in me!
The cause is always outside of me, whether it’s burning the toast (who turned up the toaster?) or creating a calamity at a football stadium (it was the drunken fans) we pass the buck!
So if the problem is not outside of us it must be inside. Someone has said “the heart of the problem is the problem of the human heart”!
King David, who was no slouch when it came to guilt-shifting, after being confronted with his crime, saw his desperate need of God’s grace, repented and prayed “create in me a clean heart” (psalm 51 verse 10). It’s the heart that needs to be changed and that is what the gospel is about – “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel Chapter 36 verse 26).
Twenty-seven years is a long time but hearts are hard (we should know) and man’s justice is slow. God’s justice is not so slow that it is certain. King David models well for us and we have an advocate in King Jesus – go to him (1 John Chapter 2 verse 1).