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04 September 2015

Crisis? Which crisis?

The word crisis has been used this week about two very different situations.

The Northern Ireland Executive is coming under pressure from at least three different directions; continued deadlock on agreement over welfare reform, the political reaction to the PSNI assessment of the murder of Kevin McGuigan, and the integrity of public funds and influence used in the NAMA deal with Cerberus. At the heart of each of these issues is responsibility and power.

Perspective was given to the crises at Stormont his week by that single 'thousand-words-image' of a boy on a beach. While harrowing, it has been heartening to see such an outpouring of compassion and renewed commitment to practical help from government and civil society. Even so, it's easy to feel powerless.

It's worth reflecting for a moment on these words from Andy Crouch's book, Playing God;  

“The deepest form of power is creation, and that when power takes the form of coercion and violence, that is actually a diminishment and distortion of what it was meant to be....why is power a gift? Because power is for flourishing. When power is used well, people and the whole cosmos come more alive to what they were meant to be. And flourishing is the test of power.”  

There are questions for us all. How can we help to respond to the immediate need for refuge? In the months and years ahead, how can we cultivate a situation where people no longer have to flee their homes and country? To use Andy's phrase, how can we use our power to create flourishing from brokenness? How can we help create a culture which cherishes human life and dignity in every form?

The real answers to these complex questions may well require personal sacrifice and a change in lifestyle from us here in the longer term. Meanwhile we encourage you to:

Give - Many of our member organisations and other aid organisations are delivering immediate practical support on the ground in Syria and surrounding countries. You can use your finances and other practical gifts. 

Advocate - Last month we contacted our eighteen MPs about the refugee situation and we encourage you to do the same. Some people need immediate refuge and sanctuary and Northern Ireland can help. We also advocate for peaceful solutions at source, to end the conflict which is forcing people to leave their homeland. You can use your voice.

Pray - Finally, below is a prayer which Fred, our Scottish Director, has written to help us as we struggle for words. Your can use your relationship with Jesus who is acquainted with all suffering and all pain and, crucially, with all power.

Lord have Mercy

Gracious God,
For every tear streaked child
For every voiceless mother
For every desperate father
For every homeless and stateless family
We cry out to you

Lord have mercy

For those slumped in despair
For those on their knees unable to take another step
For those who look and feel hunted and hopeless
For those who live in the desperate captivity of fear

Lord have mercy

Soften our hearts
Move us to action
Fill us with compassion
Let us be channels of your love

Lord have mercy

Lord whose family had to flee a country
Lord who had nowhere to lay your head
Lord who weeps over city

Lord have mercy

Move us to make a difference
To act with love and understanding
To offer hope and strengthen the weak
To put the needs of the broken above our own

Lord have mercy

Amen.