Show Up

It was a real privilege to host around 40 members of the west African community last night for an evening with our local MP, Meg Hillier. Men, women and children from the African Francophone community, mainly for Cote D’Ivoire, but also others, gathered to have a conversation with Meg about our neighbourhood, our country, and our society.

It was fascinating to reflect on the multiple identities that many of us inhabit – with several national and cultural identities each asserting slightly different priorities on different occasions. It’s clear that it’s not a simple issue to resolve competing claims… I was struck by the complaint of one man who was concerned that there wasn’t a proper culture of discipline for children and youth in this country, and referred to the problem of young people always knowing ‘their rights’. I certainly to believe that children and young people (and everyone else for that matter) have a right not to be hit or beaten, and to be taken seriously. If ‘discipline’ is a code-word for violence, then I’m dead against it!

Anyway, amidst all this, it reminded me that spending time face-to-face, listening to each other, sharing our concerns, our hopes and our fears, this is vital for the forging of a common life together. Sitting apart and just grumbling, or even worse, lobbing bricks towards each other, will achieve nothing…

That’s why I’m so passionate about the Church – local, national and international – becoming a place where people gather to work together for the common good. I believe that this is a vital part of our role as ‘Ambassadors of the ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Cor. 5:20) working as ‘citizens of heaven’ (Phil. 3:21) on behalf of the kingdom of God and living as salt and light (Matt. 5) in our neighbourhoods and workplaces.

It’s the process of spending time with one another and genuinely listening and attending to the concerns of one another that can bring about new ideas, new relationships, new vision and new hope. It’s central to the process of Community Organising – of which I’m also a big advocate, but more about that some other time…

But in the meantime, please share this video, register to vote, and resolve to #showup!!

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