Thursday, September 20
One of the casualties of Northern Ireland's ``Troubles'' is the credibility of the gospel. The majority and minority communities have differing geographic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds, national loyalties, and political aspirations, which all play a part in their struggle. However, it has been simpler for many to use ``Protestant'' and ``Catholic'' as shorthand when describing the 40 years of civil unrest.
As this society moves out of conflict, many people ask, ``Why did we have to go through that?'' and then seek someone to blame. The armed groups and politicians are natural targets. So are the churches and Christianity itself. After all, the sides were labeled as ``Catholic'' and ``Protestant.'' Therefore, many conclude, ``If that is what Christian faith produces, why have anything to do with it?'' That presents a challenge for those who agree that the abuse of ``religion'' has been part of the problem but believe more strongly that the gospel has power to heal and unite.
When asked what is the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied that we should love God with all our being and love our neighbor as ourselves. Many in Northern Ireland are disinclined to listen to the gospel unless they see Christian faith bearing fruit through love of neighbor. Understanding this, Fortwilliam Macrory Presbyterian Church and Holy Family Roman Catholic Parish in North Belfast have adopted a Covenant to pursue joint practical service in their district as a visible witness to the gospel.
- Rev. Doug Baker, PC(USA) regional liaison for Ireland and the United Kingdom
Let us join in prayer for:
Presbyterian Church in Ireland: Rev. Donald Watts, general secretary * Irish Council of Churches/Irish Inter-Church Meeting: Mervyn McCollugh, executive secretary * Irish School of Ecumenics: Dr. Linda Hogan, director * Corrymeela Community: Rev. Dr. Inderjit Bhogal, leader
PC(USA) Agencies' Staff
Carolyn Pressley, Board of Pensions
Elonzer Purkins, Office of the General Assembly
Let us pray
Jesus, Prince of Peace, too often our attitudes turn others away from you. May the manner in which we relate give credible witness to your good news. May we and those who observe our lives turn to you and find power to break down barriers, heal divisions, and together experience life as you intend it to be lived. Amen.