Tribalism v Unity

I loved the blog post by DigitalNun on whether or not humanity is Descending into Tribalism Again? I felt like it hit the nail on the head.  We’re currently in a place where extremist rhetoric seems to be the norm in the Western world:

  • Trump’s daily hate and vitriol represents a uniquely toxic style of leadership to a Western democracy.
  • The rise of the extreme right in mainland Europe
  • The large protests in Paris turning into violence.
  • The ridiculous arguing and quarreling each day in and around Parliament over Brexit
  • The racism shared in various football stadiums around the country.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called in the House of Lords on the need for reconciliation after a “week of deep division” over Brexit.  The Most Rev Justin Welby said it was “central to our future” as a country that the divisions were healed.

The Archbishop, speaking in the House of Lords, called on the Government to establish a “reconciliation unit” which would work across Whitehall departments and with humanitarian organisations and faith groups to bring people together.  He said:

“This has been a week of deep division, and reconciliation will be something that, although applied to foreign policy in this debate, must become central to our future in this country.

“I hold firm to the belief that we can create a society where mutual flourishing is possible, disagreeing well is central and respecting the difference is paramount.”

“Reconciliation is needed before, during and after conflict, preemptive reconciliation is essential.”

“I think it was Bill Shankly who said ‘I teach my lads to get their retaliation in first’; we need to learn to get our reconciliation in first.”

“Reconciliation happens from the top of society down, from the bottom of society up and from the middle of society out. It must include women, youth and minorities. If any group is left out, peace is not sustainable.”

“What is needed is a joined-up approach to reconciliation, straddling humanitarian, economic, social, ethic, cultural, political, spiritual and religious factors in which different departments of Government work together under the umbrella of a joint reconciliation unit.”

The Church of England bishops have issued an unusual joint statement, saying that they are praying for UK politicians and “national unity” following turbulence over Brexit:

In the light of this week’s turbulent events, the bishops of the Church of England pray for national unity – and courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians.

We call on the country to consider the nature of our public conversation. It is time to bring grace and generosity back to our national life.

At the heart of the Christian message is Jesus’ command to love our neighbour. This includes those with whom we agree and disagree – at home, in Europe, and further afield. We urge everyone – our political leaders and all of us – to bring magnanimity, respect and reconciliation to our national debate.

There is now an urgent need for the United Kingdom to recover a shared vision and identity to help us find a way through the immediate challenges.

Regardless of what happens next with Brexit, the Church of England, alongside many other churches and other agencies striving for the common good, will be at the heart of local communities; educating one million children, providing 33,000 social action projects and running 16,000 churches across the country. Above all else, we will continue to support the most vulnerable and share Christ’s love with all.

This is the Advent season. As we reflect and await Christmas in joyful anticipation, we have faith in Christ to show us all the way of hope.

Responsive Prayer: No it’s the church actually

Church Actually

We used this responsive prayer by Krish Kandiah as part of our response to thinking about our local community at our Churches Together service for unity and prayer on Sunday, it worked really well, and maybe worth you keeping for a future occasion:

This was a “call and response” part of my sermon – I asked the questions and the audience replied “No its the church actually!”

Do you know who provides half of the parent and toddler support groups in the UK. Is it Surestart? No, it’s the church actually.

Do you know who provide the biggest network of debt couselling across the UK with 190 drop-in centres? Helping over 19 141 individuals last year alone? Is it Martin “Moneysavingexpert” Lewis? No it’s the church actually.

Who is it that donated 72 million hours of volunteer work to social initiatives last year estimating a contribution of 1.5 billion pounds a year? Was it the National Trust? No it was the church actually.

Do you know who will feed 100 000 hungry people this year in the UK is it the Redcross? No it’s the church actually!

Do you know who brought hospitals, schools, universities and democracy into our country? Was it the Vikings? No, it was the church actually!

Who invented Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Queen’s Park Rangers, Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur Football clubs, was it the Football association? No it was the church actually!

When the doctors, the police and the social workers move out of an area and go and live somewhere else who is that moves in ? Is it Richard Dawkins and Militant Atheists? No it’s the church actually!

Who is it that is the hope of the world, is it NATO? No, it’s the church actually!