Strange Times

There’s no denying that these are strange times. We are on our third prime minister in under a year and off the back of Covid-19, we are facing a climate crisis and a cost of living crisis. People are seeing the brokenness of our current system and are looking for a sense of hope.

Where people are finding this hope is in themselves, as they decide to take back power. We have seen this in recent strike actions as people, many of whom have never taken industrial action before, have taken to the streets in desperation at injustice. However what they have found there is the joy of uniting and building relationships across different workplace communities.

I have experienced this same sense of empowerment myself. When I protest with a group called Christian Climate Action, I unite with other Christians in prayerful protest to take a stand against the inaction of our government in the face of the climate and biodiversity crisis. I have felt the same sense of hope and coming together of diverse communities in demanding care for creation.

Protest is not only a tool used by social justice movements of the past – the struggle for suffrage or the fight against Apartheid. It is also a current tool that can bring hope and a sense of solidarity and new life.

One of my favorite protest songs has these lyrics: “Hey Ho, take me by the hand. Strong in solidarity we stand. Fight for climate justice. Fight for climate justice…” It is a refrain I want to repeat until justice rolls down like water and righteousness comes like an ever-flowing stream. It is a refrain that makes me want to reach out my hand to everyone who reads these words and say “come with me together we can do this.”

This year there is a perfect opportunity to unite people towards a place of empowered hope, as coming up, from the 21st to the 24th April, is the biggest climate protest yet. The protest will involve 100,000 people outside the Houses of Parliament. The name of the protest is The Big One, because it is just that – it is a protest designed for mass participation. Churches, charities and families will all be going. There are prophetic activities planned such as a pilgrimage, vigils and prayer.

I believe that people of faith are uniquely placed to harness this upswell of empowerment and hope. We are called by Jesus Christ to stand alongside the vulnerable and to love our neighbor. What would it look like for all church communities to commit to their brothers and sisters in East Africa, in the small island states, and in all the most climate vulnerable communities, who are also frequently the poorest? What would it look like if we stood alongside these people in solidarity, opposite the corridors of power that constitute our most iconic seat of government?

Polling shows that the vast majority of people are deeply concerned about climate breakdown. But what is going to guide people into choosing hope? I believe the answer is that we need to accompany people both spiritually and physically. Just as the disciples gathered and hid and then gradually emerged into risen life post resurrection – so too we as Christians need to emerge into the alarming light of a desperate and in places dying world, and take on the mantle of co-creators of a new way.

Those of us well versed in the business of public witness through protest have prayed, walked, sung and marched. We want to take you by the hand and bring you with us to carry together the building blocks of a new way. Though, like the disciples, we may not see the way clearly, or understand fully, we can together step out in faith and hope.

Helen Burnett

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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