Thursday, June 12, 2014
Crowdsourcing together for justice
From the website of Jubilee Campaign. The fight to bring debt justice goes on.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
PAUL Boateng’s lecture was a bit more than an interesting talk – he had an agenda. A big agenda.
More on that in a moment, but I should add in passing that it WAS an interesting talk. How many people do we encounter who have the breadth that comes from having been one of the first black GLC councillors and, for that matter, Members of Parliament? How many do we know who understand our UK culture well but also have intimate knowledge of other cultures? How many do we know who play their part as a local church member and circuit preacher, yet have represented a denomination on a worldwide church forum, grappling with worldwide Christian and religious issues?
So this is about the perspective that comes from breadth, and when Lord Boateng talks about Jesus being the light of the world, a candle that must be kept burning, with the power to inhabit, and transcend, all cultures – this is more than rhetoric.
Unity among Christians and churches is vital, he says, and follows not just Jesus’ own prayer in John 17 but also the stated desire of evangelicals for fellowship, an understanding and mutual respect that is born of friendship, not floundering on institutional structures.
This plays out much wider than the kind of fellowship, within certain boundaries, that we might feel comfortable in. The New Testament teaching is that there is no longer a separation between Jew and Greek, male and female, or (by implication) other strata of the Christian experience – we are all one in Christ Jesus. So we need a ‘new ecumenical’ agenda which allows, in fact promotes, safe conversations and among diverse traditions, and which therefore offers new possibilities.
The power of unity and righteous action is undeniable — we saw yesterday how, in Lord Boateng’s view, the Berlin Wall was brought down by people holding candles, and the hold of apartheid was broken. A third major change for good, the Jubilee Campaign on debt was a uniting move of righteousness impacting the poorest countries of the word.
He said: “Finance ministers did not just wake up one day with a nice idea – power concedes nothing without a demand.” The demand, as I understood him, was a spiritual force combined with the uniting movement of the (continuing) campaign. This makes an interesting parallel with where we started this week – the Love Wycombe celebration and its theme of freeing the poor where we live from debt.
What would a ‘new ecumenism’ look like, and what might it achieve? We’ll look at what he said about that tomorrow, bout close with the thought that any one of us can make a difference – more than we might imagine – by emailing a letter to the media we best relate to, badgering our MEP to represent the Christian/church’s view in Brussels and Strasbourg and working with our MPs and other influencers on issues at home.
His appeal to us was an appeal, to us who hold the power of change when we act in symphony, to find our voice.