In this week’s prayer email:
- UK Elections
- Short Notes: French Elections, Bonn Climate Talks
- Coming up in the second half of May and early June …
The Christian community in Acts, as described in this week’s lectionary readings, is one where Resurrection joy and hope inform a daily life of shared prayer, shared meals, shared resources and mutual care. Can we, today, ask for the grace to live and promote visions of community that similarly reflect our hope in Christ and point towards God’s Kingdom?
How do we respond as Christians to the recently called snap elections? In response to this question, numerous denominations are issuing statements that offer material for reflection, prayer and action.
Church of England
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York released a pastoral letter, calling on Christians to pray for candidates and elected officials, and to engage with the election process in a spirit of love, trust and hope. The letter notes the importance of this election in shaping the national values and identity, refers to the place of faith within that identity, and emphasises the importance of three particular values: cohesion, courage and stability.
It defines cohesion as a “a sense not only of living for ourselves, but by a deeper concern for the weak, poor and marginalised, and for the common good.” In domestic terms, it cites the importance of “education for all,” tackling housing issues, community-building, and a “confident and flouishing health service”; globally it talks about the 0.7% aid commitment, standing up for those suffering persecution, and “our current leading on campaigns against slavery, trafficking and sexual violence in conflict.”
Courage it defines as including “aspiration, competition and ambition,” and it mentions the need for just trade agreements, just finance, education that helps the excluded and a call to “affirm our capacity to be an outward looking and generous country, with distinctive contributions to peacebuilding, development, the environment and welcoming the
stranger in need.”
Stability it defines as “living well with change,” and notes: “Stable communities will be skilled in reconciliation, resilient in setbacks and diligent in sustainability, particularly in relation to the environment.” Recalling the importance of housing, health and education, the archbishops also point to “marriage, the family and the household as foundational communities, which should be nurtured and supported as such, not just for the benefit of their members, but as a blessing for the whole of society.”
While the letter is clear that the values it espouses “are not the preserve of any one political party or worldview,” there is an interesting critique of it from an ecumenical group of clergy and lay people who are concerned, in the first instance, about the use of a term (stability) which is a primary campaigning term for one party, and more broadly with the way the letter defines some of its themes.
Joint Public Issues Team (Baptist, Church of Scotland, Methodist, United Reformed Church)
The Joint Public Issues Team has an election resources page, which brings together materials prepared for this election (under the theme ‘This is a time ….’) and for the 2015 election. The materials include reflections, bible studies, worship materials, information about how to hold hustings, and videos of people ‘from the margins’ reflecting on election issues.
The ‘This is a time’ biblical reflections resource is a short (4-page) gathering of six Biblical verses, each serving as the springboard for a particular theme: engagement with society’s structures and recognition of God’s ultimate authority; the dignity of each person and importance of the common good; recognising and challenging misleading narratives while promoting honest discussion; raising issues that may be overlooked; Scriptural concepts of good government and good leadership; and the role of Christians in society after the elections.
The British Quakers have a website called Quaker Vote. The introduction to this website notes that the election is a good time to raise issues that are important to Quakers and the site itself offers links to Quaker positions on such issues as peace, community, environment and sustainability, economic justice, equality, justice and democracy.
Quaker Vote also contains information about what individuals and meetings can do to engage with the election process, links to guidelines for events, and a blog with news about the elections. Its resources section has links to a wide variety of resources from the Quakers themselves, as well as from other groups.
|For prayer around the UK elections:
Short Notes: French Elections, Bonn Climate Talks
This Sunday the French are voting in the second round of elections. These are being contested by the two frontrunners from the first round, En Marche’s Emmanuel Macron and the Front National’s Marine Le Pen.
A poll taken after last Wednesday’s televised debate gave Macron a 24% lead. It is unclear, however, how the elections will be affected by abstentions and also by the online dissemination by unknown parties of a large number of documents which the Macron campaign says represent a mingling of hacked and faked material.
The French election uncertainty will not finish with the presidential elections, either. Whoever wins will then face the challenge of working with the parliament, which will be elected in June. Given that neither presidential candidate comes from the established parties which currently dominate the legislative branch, the parliamentary elections will, like the presidential, be without clear precedent.
- that the country will be at peace. Pray for an end to terrorist violence and pray for wisdom and courage for all who seek to protect the country against violence. Pray that the French people will remain strong and calm and will not allow violence to make them live in fear and make choices from fear.
- that as they vote – and as they receive the results – people will be able to find faith in the future, turning away from despair and cynicism, recalling God’s goodness and the gifts they have been given, and working out the role they can play in building up the common good
- that the media will report truthfully and responsibly, and that people will be careful to seek out the truth about candidates and their positions.
- that the country may make choices that help to protect the vulnerable and that do not further exclude people who are socially or economically marginalised
- that people will continue to feel a sense of solidarity with those outside their borders, and will be open to those seeking refuge from conflict. That whoever is elected will both seek the common good for all France’s inhabitants and also enable France to play a positive role in Europe and more widely
- that at a time of turmoil Christians and their churches may offer a living witness that Jesus Christ offers, as always, a way of love, truth and reconciliation – and that more people will come to know Christ through their witness
These prayer points are adapted from the reflection above, some of the statements by churches cited above, the website Prier Pour la France, prayer points offered by the European Evangelical Alliance, and the suggestions by the Communauté de Vie Chrétienne.
Bonn Climate Talks
The latest round of UNFCCC talks begins in Bonn this Monday. A considerable uncertainty hangs over the start of the discussions, however, as the Trump administration has submitted answers to a multilateral assessment that make it clear it has no plans to meet its 2020 commitment and doesn’t ‘have updated information’ on the emissions impact of recent policy decisions. It is rumoured, moreover, that the administration is seriously considering withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.
Please pray that the Bonn talks will include constructive discussions that move forward work to curb emissions. Pray too that the Trump administration will come to understand the importance of caring for creation and of honouring its climate commitments.
Coming up in the second half of May and early June …
14 to 20 May 2017 — Christian Aid Week: Resources on Christian Aid Week website
16 May – World Debt Day: Day to pray about unfair/unsustainable debt. Take a look at the resources in this area from the Jubilee Debt Campaign and Eurodad.
19 May 2017 – Iranian Presidential Elections
25 May to 4 June 2017 – Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative: Could you and your church join with other Christians worldwide in prayer for people to know Christ? Website with resources
26 to 27 May – G7 Leaders Summit, Taormina, Sicily. Proposed focus on migration. Potential meeting of Pope Francis and President Trump.
31 May – World No Tobacco Day: Materials from World Health Organization.
3-4 June 2017 – Viva Network World Weekend of Prayer for Children at Risk: Theme of ‘Teach us to pray’ Resources from Viva
4 June 2017– Environment Sunday (closest to 5 June, World Environment Day) Links to worship materials