East Ham Assoc minister and Chaplain to the Queen Cllr Rev Ann Easter says a simple gesture is all that’s needed to show faith

PUBLISHED: 09:28 31 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:28 31 August 2016


Arabella, my oldest granddaughter, started four years ago at a school which is on the same road as one of our cemeteries.

Inevitably, one day, while the children were out to play, one of our famous enormous East End funerals processed solemnly by. Some of the wide-eyed four and five year olds around her squealed; “Look! Look! There’s a dead body in there!” Arabella, forever the leader – I wonder where she gets that from? - said “It’s all right. This is what you do” and she made the sign of the cross as she has been taught, a witness of our Christian belief in the resurrection– but then she got the others, some of whom would certainly not be Christians, to cross themselves too, carefully instructing them – “Get your thumb, like this. Head. Heart. Shoulder to shoulder.”

It’s useful to have something to do when our feelings are bigger than words can say. I’ve seen lots of sporting types, footballers and athletes crossing themselves and pointing to Heaven as the source of their success – not to mention the hand hearts to show love to their dear ones.

And one of my favourite prayers asks God that what we believe in our hearts we may show forth in our lives.

Here in Newham, it’s the norm, even expected, that we will be visible about our faith but I know that there are places where outward demonstrations are frowned upon – cue St Rose of Lima, canonized as the first saint of the Americas in 1671, a good and generous woman who, among other things, is the special protector of people ridiculed for their devotion.

And St Rose has got our backs and while it might be difficult to show that we are people of faith – we may feel a bit embarrassed about it - sometimes a simple gesture is all it takes to reassure ourselves and to hearten other people too. More from Ann

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