Niall Cooper: Hope within the wilderness
We live in bleak times, and are bombarded by bad news. At times, we may feel discouraged, hopeless and impotent in the face of spending cuts and rising prices, whose impacts are bearing increasingly heavily on lives of the some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities. In a bleak climate, where do we turn? I don’t have all the answers – but here are a few thoughts.
Hearing the cry of the poor: A community of faith?
If we are entering a period in the wilderness, do we need to return to our roots? To find ways of embodying the core values and beliefs that many of us hold dear? As Christians, these must surely include a duty to speak up for the poorest and most vulnerable – articulating God’s bias to the poor – naming injustice as an act of faith and discipleship.
In a society which has seemingly lost its moral compass, can we find ways of being a beacon for an alternative set of values? Can we find ways of becoming a community for those who feel isolated, downtrodden and (sadly) like “outsiders” for holding true to such beliefs? Surely there is no task more important for a Church that has sought to commit itself to Zero Intolerance?
Speaking truth to power: A community
Secondly, are there ways we can act as a community of public witness – not just “speaking” out, but offering a voice to those who are, normally, voiceless and marginalised? “Speaking truth to power” is always counter-cultural and certainly a challenge to the powers of the world. Even if no change is brought about as a result, are not such acts of witness intrinsically valuable? It has certainly been encouraging in this regard to see Church leaders from across the denominations speaking out strongly and persistently in the past few weeks about the growth of poverty and hunger, and the erosion of the welfare safety net which we all have to rely on when times get hard. But what of our own role in such a community of witness?..
This is an extract from the April 2014 edition of Reform.