I've just had breakfast with Les Issac - founder of Street Pastors, prolific traveller and one of those people who regularly sits with senior politicians and police officers and yet seems entirely untainted by it. I should add that I wasn't alone; there were 15 or so of us gathered at a regular inter-church breakfast.
He spoke briefly about a prayer event he's organising to seek God in relation to the recent spate of gun and knife crimes in south London. He asked whether anyone had a word from the Lord to share on that occasion. That always sets me thinking - is God going to say something new and startlingly original or is he going to remind us of our calling as his people in this great city?
I felt him reminding me that we are called to be a people of peace, shalom; in a world of violence we are to be a people who live together in peace and make peace in the communities in which we live.
Peace is an essential building block of community. At it's most basic, it's knowing that I will be safe in the company of my brothers and sisters in church, that if I share difficult things, I'll not be shouted at, bullied or put down. Sadly, of course, that isn't always the case. All too often churches are places where those with the loudest voices and biggest personalities get their way, wielding unhelpful influence over the lives of those around them.
So maybe our first calling in the light of these terrible events in our city is to recommit ourselves to living at peace with one another.
Peace, of course, in the bible is more than just the absence of conflict - though that's an essential first step - it's also about the presence of wholeness and well-being, right relationships with God and one another. And, most crucially, it's about seeking the blessing of that shalom for our neighbours, working for their good, for their shalom, ensuring that the widest numbers possible get a taste of God's agenda for them.
So in communities wracked by violence, it's about being a peace-making presence, a people who offer different options for young people, support for parents, a place of safety and belonging for all. It's also about using our resources to create social capital in our neighbourhoods through skills training, job creation, offering second, third and fourth chances to those who've messed up and want a shot at starting their lives over.
Where are the churches who are doing this?
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Labels: bible, community, justice, social action
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".....offering second, third and fourth chances to those who've messed up and want a shot at starting their lives over."
Isn't it interesting the tone of English legisaltion over the past few years? Find people out, convict them and hang them out to dry and when they have "done their time" put them back in the community as anathema and if the crime was sexual then people want to lynch them.
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