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Getting our hands dirty in 2022

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(Photo: Unsplash/YoungShih)

Politics is important and Christians should care about it. Politics is not the ultimate thing, none of the solutions that it can achieve are ultimate solutions, but it should matter deeply to us because politics impacts on every human being. And every human being is made in God’s image, holds immense dignity and we are therefore called to love them.

We can’t easily love our neighbour if we steer clear of the thing that affects them the most. Politics is about how we order our society and it’s part of the way we live out our faith because God cares about the details of our daily lives.

When it comes to politics, I am certain that Christians must not panic, but that we must care and care deeply.

If you are reading this article then I will assume that you already have some sort of interest in politics.

For 2022, where can you engage that interest?

In the book of Exodus we see Moses arguing with God that he is the wrong person to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. “Who am I to do that?” he asks. God answers him, almost comically: “What’s in your hand?” Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand. A stick. A stick which God used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt…

So what’s in your hand today?

Where has God placed you? What injustices can you see in your community that nag away at you? What has He placed on your heart?

Here are some ideas for the new year:

Think about the issues you care about. Pick one and seek to understand it: find out where it is being discussed, listen to the debates, make yourself better informed, and perhaps enter into the process by writing to your MP or local councillor with your concerns. Go and meet them at their surgery.

Look around you: where do you interact with your community? Your church, workplace or place of study, your children’s school? The local shop, green spaces, public transport, the doctor’s surgery? What do you spend your time on, where does this take you? These are all our ‘ordinary’ places, where we live, work and play. Wherever God has placed you, you can be his hands and feet in your community. Who can you talk to, engage with, what issues need resolving?

In Romans, Paul explains the nature of human sin, the just but horrific consequences of that sin, and then gives us the good news of God’s mercy to us in Jesus. Having set all of this out, he begins chapter 12 saying ‘..in view of God’s mercy.. offer your bodies as a living sacrifice..’ Being a living sacrifice is something we do in light of God’s mercy towards us, and being a living sacrifice surely means serving wherever we are placed. What would that service look like?

Prayer should always be the first, last and continuous thing we do as Christians: prayer for guidance, for wisdom, for God’s perspective on the issues we face. Pray for God to reveal to you an issue where you could focus your attention. In my weekly podcast, A Mucky Business – now entering its third season, I try and ask my guests what we can be praying for, and close in prayer. Prayer is the power of God in every situation. So, please, pray for your politicians – local and national. Pray for wisdom for the issues they grapple with. And encourage your church to pray regularly for them too.

You may feel that what you do is unimportant. But remember that God told Zechariah not to despise the day of small things. Often we look to Daniel as a bold example of faith, obedience and sacrifice – a believer in high office whose love for God led him to take a terrifying stand. What rarely gets mentioned though, is that as far as we know, Daniel served quietly, diligently, effectively for years if not decades in Babylon before the lion’s den episode.

So as we face 2022, can I challenge you to pick one issue to engage with this year, be it local, national or international. Be willing to get your hands dirty and your heart broken as – in the light of God’s mercy to you – you seek to love your neighbour through this mucky business of politics.

Inform yourself, pray for wisdom and guidance, pray for those involved and see where God will take you…. and why not tell us about where that takes you? I’d love to hear your stories.

Tim Farron has been the Member of Parliament for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005, and served as the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party from 2015 to 2017. Tim is also the host of Premier’s ‘A Mucky Business’ podcast, which unpacks the murky world of politics and encourages believers around the UK to engage prayerfully. Season 3 starts January 2022, you can listen on your chosen podcast provider.

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Christians urge PM to take radical action on climate change after IPCC report

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(Photo: Unsplash/Markus Spiske)

Christian groups are urging the Prime Minister to use the UK’s Presidency of COP26 this year to do more to address climate change and support communities already being impacted.

The call follows the release of the latest research from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which warned of “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity” to avert disaster.

The grim report says that the world is already living with the consequences of climate change, with heatwaves, floods, droughts and wildfires intensifying across the globe.

The panel says that over 40 per cent of the world’s population are now “highly vulnerable” to climate change and that many consequences cannot be reversed.

Responding to the report, Catholic aid agency CAFOD said it was imperative to keep “1.5 alive” as it called on governments to increase their commitments to net zero.

It is calling on rich countries to make good on their promises at COP26 and double the amount of funding for climate adaptation.

Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, said that for some communities, it was too late to adapt.

“How many crystal-clear red alerts on the climate crisis do we need before we take the urgent and meaningful action?” he said.

“Keeping warming below 1.5 degrees is the only way to avoid the huge destruction that failing those entails, especially for those living on the breadline across the world.

“We are also sadly seeing communities in East Africa and small island states where that destruction has gone beyond the ability to adapt, and they now urgently need funds to compensate for the destruction caused by a climate crisis they did not create.”

He added that while some success was being seen in initiatives to restore mangroves, tropical forests and other coastal and land ecosystems, support for these projects needs to be “massively scaled up”.

“Money to fight the climate crisis cannot be a bargaining chip to be played fast and loose with, this is about the survival
of all of us and the planet we love,” he said.

“In the lead up to COP27, it is vital that Loss and Damage and Adaptation are top of the agenda – it’s now or never for planet Earth.”

Peter Kihara Kariuki, Bishop of Marsabit in Kenya, said the region was facing “severe” drought, forcing people to trek up to 17km for water and leaving many dependent on aid from the church, government or NGOs for basic necessities.

“We must raise our voices and call for ambitious action from world leaders to bring about climate justice by enacting the strongest measures to keep the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees or below, commit to binding agreements to cut global carbon emissions, and increase support to communities like mine in Marsabit to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis,” he said.

“Climate change is real for us in Marsabit. As churches, as communities, we must make sure that our voices are heard. We have a saying in Swahili: ‘Kuja pamoja ni mwanzo, kukuwa pamoja ni maendeleo; kufanya kazi pamoja ni mafanikio,’ which translates as ‘coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success’.”

Nushrat Chowdhury, Climate Justice Advisor at Christian Aid, is based in Bangladesh. She said the country was already on “the frontline of climate change” and that those in poverty, women and children were being impacted the most.

“This report is a wake-up call to the world that those on the front lines of this crisis need much greater support if they are going to cope with climate impacts they have not caused,” she said.

She said that more funding was needed to help the vulnerable adapt and to support communities living with permanent damage.

“As COP president throughout 2022 the UK government has a vital role in leading global efforts to tackle climate change,” she said.

“The main thing lacking from the outcome at COP26 was robust financial help for the world’s most vulnerable, despite repeated promises from rich nations that it would be provided.

“It is now vital that the UK Government spearhead efforts to mobilise much greater funding to help the climate vulnerable adapt and to set up a fund to deal with the permanent loss and damage which cannot be adapted to.

“Only then will they have a legacy as COP26 president to be proud of.”

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Several Coptic Monasteries Left to Crumble in Egypt

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03/01/2022 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Several Coptic monasteries in Egypt are facing renovation and reopening issues, including Saint Paul’s monastery near Egypt’s Red Sea. The 4th-century monastery suffered serious flood damage earlier this month, resulting in collapsed walls and access roads flooded and closed off. In January another Coptic Orthodox 5th-century monastery also experienced crumbling walls. The monastery of Anba Samuel has been closed since a terrorist attack in May 2017 for security and renovation, but now monks are struggling to find a concession with authorities to open the building again.

Saint Paul’s monastery was closed off from access roads for some time as a result of the flooding and is built around the cave that its namesake lived in. Both Saint Paul’s and the 5th-century monastery reportedly were left crumbling by the Egyptian authorities. Under Egypt’s non-Muslim worship laws, pre-existing churches and monasteries are allowed but require special permission for rebuilding, repairing, or refurbishment.

In the past several years, security and renovation have been the primary focus at Abna Samuel Monastery, where authorities allowed the renovations after terrorist incidents that resulted in the martyrdom of 35 Copts. However, monastery and local officials struggle now to agree on the reopening of the monastery to the public.

For interviews, please contact [email protected].

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