Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Out of Darkness Cometh Light

That’s the motto of the City of Wolverhampton, and we caught a glimpse of the reality of that today as people responded to last night’s riots.

I have long believed that people of the light overcome darkness by living in the opposite spirit. So, even though I can understand why, I struggle with those who resort to anger, violence, prejudice as a reaction to what we’ve seen in our streets, neighbourhoods, cities, nation.

So, how to live in the opposite spirit? Well, if riots are about violence, we live in a way that brings healing. If looting is about theft and destruction then we live in generosity and set about rebuilding. If the anger and violence is anything at all to do with anguish and a lack of meaning and purpose, then we live as those who have hope in our hearts, and work towards seeing our vision of a better society become a reality.

About 2,500 years ago a wise man, a prophet even, said “seek the peace and prosperity of the city...because if it prospers, you too will prosper”. That's what we did this morning as around 100 people, including our elected representatives and council officials, gathered in solidarity, and in practical action to help shop owners affected by last nights disturbances.

500 years later Jesus taught about living in the opposite spirit. He talked about a kind of godly defiance. “if someone hits your right cheek offer them the left, if they take your outer garments, give them your underwear too, if they make you carry a pack one mile, walk two”. It’s not weakness, it’s a sign of strength, a surge of the free spirit that turns the act of darkness on its head, and provides a space for light to shine.

Last night, a group of people showed their disdain of our city with hammers and kicks, with destruction and theft. This morning a group of people showed their love with brooms and gloves, with healing, generosity and love.

Out of darkness cometh light? Hell yeah! LoveWolves.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Baptist Union of Great Britain President calls for prayers for London and our cities

Pray for the peace of the city, may peace be within your homes and security on your streets. 

Will you join me please in praying for the peace of our cities, and especially for the people of Tottenham. 
Pray for the family and friends of Mark Duggan as they absorb the shock of his violent and premature death- pray that the circumstances of his death may become clear for everyone to see and that those who loved him will have confidence that justice has been done. 

Pray for everyone who has been traumatised by the events of the weekend- the policemen who have been injured, and their families- those who have lost homes and businesses- those who have lost their sense of living in a friendly and safe place. 

Pray for our police, that there will be among them exceptional men and women, able to understand the hopes and fears of all the different individuals and groups they deal with, able to uphold the law with wisdom, integrity and discretion, able to step over prejudice, their own and other people's. 

Pray for entrepreneurs and business people with drive and energy to create sustainable, worthwhile jobs for folk living in Tottenham, and across our country... 

Pray for mothers and fathers to stand steady and faithful at the heart of their families, and offer the disciplines of love, truth and example. May they model how to seek justice without violence. 

Pray for the young, that they will listen to the voices calling them to live courageously and freely, and will turn away from those influences calling them to alienation and victimhood. 

Pray for the churches of Tottenham, and especially our church in the High Road and its minister, Peter George - may they be communities of hope and reconciliation, outposts of God's Kingdom that is coming.
Pray for the future when resources may be scarce, jobs and homes hard to come by, May we be those who demonstrate a genuine concern for our neighbours, the salt that resists the tendency to care only for ourselves, the light that reveals all the many dimensions of well being that do not depend on affluence. 

For the sake of my family and my friends I will say, "peace be within you". Amen 

Pat Took, President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain 
These prayers were written before last night's violence. They will also appear in this week's The Baptist Times

Please pray these prayers for the city of Wolverhampton too. Last night the police station near our church building was attacked and vandalised, and one of the officers cars smashed up. Locally there are many precautions being taken, and rumours about about possible upset later. Please pray for peace in our cities. - JS