Spirit Sightings

May 8, 2016: For the Common Good


From Fraser Macnaughton

Twenty-seven years ago there occurred the worst disaster ever at a British soccer match when 96 people died watching Liverpool play Nottingham forest in the English cup semi-final at Hillsborough soccer stadium in Sheffield. Most of the supporters who died were crushed to death as gates were opened to let them into the ground without checks being made as to whether they had the correct tickets.

The local police force, backed up by the national media, blamed fans for the deaths. Some of the media headlines were lurid, referring to fans being drunk, stealing from the dead, and preventing medics from reaching the injured.  However, some 29 years later, an inquest jury has found that in fact the actions of South Yorkshire police officers were the principal cause of the disaster. In a verdict that represents one of the most damning indictments of a British police force, the jury answered 14 questions about what happened at the football groundincluding the fact that the 96 fans were killed unlawfully.

It was only through the dogged perseverance of the families and relatives who were determined to clear the names of their loved ones that the truth of that day has come to light. All through the various enquiries and investigations, the collective will of the relatives and families and the rock solid belief that blame had been wrongly attributed gave them the succor to continue their case in the face of a torrent of slurs and media scapegoating, not only of the fans who attended on the day but by implication all Liverpool fans.

Families in the Hillsborough Justice Campaign said in a statement read outside the court that the verdicts “completely vindicate the families’ long fight for justice.”

Prosecutors will now examine evidence to see if there is a case to be made for criminal proceedings. Only by their struggle for the common good has this group of ordinary people been strong enough to take on the forces of the establishment and to achieve a just outcome for the deceased and injured.

Explore… Acts 16:16–34

  • Can you recall any other instances of pursuing the common good by a group that enables justice to win out?
  • What do you think drove these families to persevere in their quest for justice?
  • How does this story relate to our faith?

Prayer links…

We pray for all victims of injustice that they may persevere in their cause, be strong in their faith, and know that there are others who are able to offer prayerful support and that, where their struggle is just, there too is the Spirit of Christ at work. Amen.

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