FEBRUARY 8, 2024
Each year CTBI offers a Lent resource for inter-church groups to engage together in study and prayer around a theme that is relevant to the Church on these islands, and often in a wider international context. It can also be used by individual congregations wishing to join with groups from other denominations in prayer during Lent around issues that are of shared concern, and by individuals seeking inspiration for their own prayer and reflection.
This year we are inviting participants to reflect on the question of how we might be called to engage as Christians with the political realities and processes that shape our society, impacting our own lives and the wellbeing of our communities.
The work of CTBI spans five different political jurisdictions which will all have unique features and characteristics. There are, however, shared concerns about the increased prevalence of political discourse which is divisive and polarising, which fails to respect the equal worth and dignity of all people, and which reduces complex socio-political realities to binary choices, making enemies of political opponents and minimising any sense of common ground or collective responsibility. The space for respectful, reasoned and well-informed debate and discussion appears to be shrinking.
A related concern is that the content of political debate often fails to engage with the challenges that people face in their everyday lives, offering little hope to individuals who are struggling with issues like housing insecurity or inadequate income, or to communities concerned about issues like access to employment and public services. This can give rise to feelings of disconnect and alienation which cause people to lose faith in political processes as a means of effecting positive change.
This Lenten reflection series is informed by conversations that are taking place across different areas of CTBI work. It invites us to reflect on how Christians are called to respond, bringing their values to the political debate as part of a pluralist and multi-faith public square.
A particular focus of this study programme will be the relevance of the learning from our ecumenical journey in this context. What might we be able to share from the skills and experience we have developed in facilitating respectful and inclusive encounters and dialogue that promote greater understanding and celebrate unity in diversity? How might the story of that ecumenical journey help to inject some language into the political discourse, with themes such as friendship, solidarity and collective responsibility?
Most importantly we will pray together for positive change in these very uncertain times when communities desperately need a message of hope.
Dr Nicola Brady, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
Reflections will be available to download weekly during Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday, 14 February 2024.
Post expires on April 9th, 2024