As a church we always have much to pray for. We are aware of our situation and our circumstance - the ways in which we are in need of God’s love and compassion. But our call to prayer must always go beyond ourselves. In our calling as Christians we are to pray for the city, the nation and this world.
This week I feel more conscious than normal that our city, our nation and this world needs prayer and to know the reality of God’s love and mercy. Like many, I was shocked by another mass shooting this time in Orlando on June 12th, one that adds to an increasing list. Then, on June 16th, I heard about MP Jo Cox, shot, stabbed and murdered outside Birstall Library, just 7.5 miles from St George’s. I was shocked - but part of me has not been surprised.
There has been a climate of fear that has been growing aided by events and debate around extremism, migration, economic instability and politics across the world. Some of the most prevalent of which has been in our media surrounding the Presidential campaigns in the USA and the debate on the EU Referendum. These debates can quickly lead to not just sharp disagreement but growing hatred which, in these instances, has led to needless violence.
I was struck by the response of Jo Cox’s husband, Brendan just hours after her tragic death:
“Jo would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion it is poisonous.”
It is a response that, in the midst of loss, heartache, pain and tragedy does not find its way to enmity and hatred. Instead it seeks another way - LOVE. As I prepare next week's sermon, Luke 6:27-28 says:
Jesus calls us to another way, one that seeks the best for others despite disagreement or hostility. He ultimately, calls us further into prayer not just for those that we care about but for those that disagree with us and may seek to harm us.
So as Thursday approaches, I urge you to pray:
- in preparation for the vote
- for this city in the midst of mourning an MP and campaigner for justice
- for the family of Jo Cox as they love one another and begin to grieve Jo’s death
- for the nation as it decides and lives with it’s decision; that disagreement would not turn to hatred
- for Orlando and the LGBT community as they grieve and mourn
- for the world as a whole that in the midst of instability the peace of Jesus Christ would be revealed
If you haven’t already listened to Jonathan’s thoughts on the EU Referendum from the 18:30 Service on 12th June - I would encourage you to do so. Click here
Read more on the EU Referendum and Jo Cox from the Bishop of Leeds on Nick Baine’s blog - https://nickbaines.wordpress.com
If you are able to vote, then please vote - not from a place of fear but from a place of love (even of enemies), seeking the best for others. Vote from a place of hope based on Christian principles and from a place of unity, being willing to play your part in the debate. Listen to all sides and stand as neighbours with those whose opinions differ from your own. After the vote, join us at the Church Prayer Gathering to pray together as a church.
Our Next Church Prayer Gathering:
Tues 28 June | 7.30 - 9pm | St George's Centre