Connecting with Culture
Our blog reflecting on weekly news, trends, innovation, and the arts...
Around this time, we normally celebrate the best of Connecting with Culture, and with it the most fascinating cultural moments of the year.
But this time, ‘celebration’ doesn’t feel like the right word. 2020’s cultural milestones have often been dark and painful. From the arrival of coronavirus to the death of George Floyd, this year ‘connecting with culture’ has meant grappling with the toughest questions of what it means to live in a fallen world – and to serve Christ faithfully when normality disappears.
So today we offer, if not a celebration, then a retrospective. A picture of 2020 in five significant Connecting with Culture articles. And together, the story they tell is anything but hopeless. Our mission as disciples of Christ – to make a difference for him on our frontlines – remained the same. Our church buildings may have been closed, but in homes and streets, on buses and platforms, in hospitals and Zoom calls, God has been working through his people to bring his kingdom on Earth.
As you enter 2021, may you know his peace on your frontline – and may God work through you to share it with others.
Ploughing a Subversive Furrow
In the church calendar, Plough Sunday is when farming communities traditionally brought their tools to the altar and offered God the work of their hands at the start of the year.
Fast-forward a few hundred years, and in a Baptist church somewhere in England, with everything from USB sticks to van keys, the tradition lives on.
Attending the service, Mark Greene reflected on how quietly subversive this simple ritual is in a hyper-modern, hyper-proud culture. It ‘reminds us of our total dependence on God, and that, whatever we do, with him we plough a different furrow’.
What better launch-pad could there be for the year that followed?
The Fear of Death and the Shield of David
Two months later, in the UK coronavirus had morphed from a background noise to a screaming siren. On 23 March, all unnecessary social contact was forbidden – and the number of people in hospital began to creep upwards.
For the first time in decades, death was on our collective mind. Millions were worried about losing a loved one – or indeed their own life – to Covid.
As the country struggled against this sudden flood of fear, Mark Greene pointed to the eternal hope we have in Christ. A hope that casts out even the fear of death – and crucially, a hope that we could hold out to those around us.
Faith Flourishing in Lockdown
After six weeks in lockdown, research from Tearfund revealed that just under half (44%) of UK adults said they pray, and a quarter (24%) had tuned in to a religious service since lockdown began.
On the same day, the UK Blessing was released, and within hours both the research and the song hit the headlines. As the busyness of normal life receded and old certainties were challenged, it seemed hearts and ears were turning to God.
Reflecting on the findings, Tearfund’s Ruth Valerio highlighted the power of prayer – and the need for a prayer movement to grow up alongside the campaign of practical action in response to the pandemic.
We Can't Breathe
On 25 May, an African-American man named George Floyd was killed by a police officer who knelt on his neck for over nine minutes.
He was one of a long line of Black people to die at the hands of US police in recent years, and the brutality of his death sparked a global protest movement.
Selina Stone of St Mellitus College issued a stark call for white UK Christians to recognise, lament, and repent of complicity in systems that disadvantage people of colour. And not to stop there, but to practise solidarity with Black people, taking action to bring about a world that cares for ‘the least of these’.
Why Does Jacob Collier Make Me Cry?
Finally, though there were many tears this year, they weren’t all tears of sadness.
While the pandemic raged, we spent a lot of this year indoors, many of us occupying ourselves with Netflix and YouTube. It was there I discovered the joyous music of Jacob Collier – whose intricate live performances are ‘like watching Mozart on a bouncy castle’.
I reflected on how the simple wonder of good music played well reflects the glory and love of God – and prompts us to worship our ever-glorious Father with our emotions as well as our minds.
Marketing & Editorial Lead, LICC