Our Diocesan LIFE vision through its ‘Engagement’ strand commits us to being advocates for human flourishing, but there can be no doubt that amid the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, many faced with such great challenges and seemingly impossible questions, are struggling to know what they can do.
Yet as followers of Christ we are not helpless and we want to thank you for the different ways in which you are living out Christ’s love and hope during these days of extraordinary political unknowns, not least amid people’s anxiety and frustration. Thank you for praying and living ‘good neighbourliness’.
Jesus’ told his disciples a parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)
Jesus speaks of something good and small being planted which grows into something life-giving, generous and hospitable. It is a beautiful picture of the inclusive Kingdom of God. We are all invited to join in and we each have small seeds to plant.
We want to encourage you not only to be planting and tending in the relationships of everyday life, but also to consider if there are ways you can bring diverse people together in your local contexts to identify shared hopes about the sort of communities we want to be.
First there are all the opportunities we have as individual members of the body of Christ to be good neighbours amid the people and places of our everyday lives. The recent letter from the Diocese of Oxford is extremely helpful in offering some practical pointers and directing people to further resources. We commend the letter to you here.
Second our worshipping communities can be key in creating spaces for conversation, not least because we often have suitable buildings where people can gather, but also because we host many community events and activities which can be used to shape specific conversations. There are resources including conversation starters such as ‘what are the three main things we have in common that we can build on for a better future as a community?’ available at www.churchofengland.org/together.
Such conversations are not about apportioning blame or directing shoulds and oughts at decision-makers, but rather firing imaginations to look at common ground and what people might like to participate in together.
As was said when we wrote in January ‘Wishing that things had been lived differently will not change where we are, but we can be involved in shaping the present and future.’
This comes with our ongoing thanks and prayers