28 August 2013
A better way?
Fifteen years on from the Good Friday Agreement and it's safe to say we still have work to do. Our own summer of discontent featured Ardoyne, Castlederg and the Maze/Long Kesh site to name a few literal and ideological flashpoints.
This autumn, Dr Richard Haass, former US special envoy, will be back in Northern Ireland to chair all-party talks focusing on the past, parades and flags. These talks present a real window of opportunity for fresh and creative thinking on issues which have lain unresolved for too long.
Imagine the potential consequences if Christians right across Northern Ireland made it their priority to contact their local MLA's in September about these talks. Imagine if our unified message for the future was one of overwhelming hope, not fear. A loving mandate to politicians and institutions to repent from the harmful actions and mindsets of the past, to forgive and to show grace. A challenge to move from legal codes of conduct between themselves, to forming real relationships with each other. A giving of our permission as constituents to break from 'them and us' thinking and no longer continue it in our name.
We would encourage you to seek God and His Kingdom, pray for wisdom and insight, read and think biblically about these issues. Then go and make bold and gracious representation to your local MLAs. You can call or email your local MLA's office or why not arrange your own meeting as a Church and invite several local MLAs from different parties along. Outline to them the priorities you long to see reflected in their proposals to deal with the past, parading and flags. Don't be afraid to ask big things as long as you're prepared to play your part in bringing the change.
If you want to discuss this further or require any further reading or resources on these issues please do not hesitate to contact David Smyth firstname.lastname@example.org