Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
A mere week ago, millions of people headed to polling stations to vote in the local elections.
Following an initial flurry of headlines, local election results soon dropped off the news, rapidly obscured by stories about Beergate and the Baftas. For many of us, local government will be forgotten until we need to email the council about a problem, or the next polling day comes around.
Local councils may not be the most glamorous end of politics, yet they provide hugely important services that impact us all. Amongst other responsibilities, councils look after our allotments, commons, and green spaces; they oversee local transport schemes which grant access to employment opportunities, healthcare, and education; they protect citizens through crime reduction measures, street lighting, and traffic control; they provide opportunities for connection with local events and youth projects.
Churches often pray for wisdom for national leaders. But how often do we pray for our local councils? What might it look like for Christians to support and partner with local government in transformative ways?
In Jeremiah 29:7, God encourages the Israelite exiles in Babylon to begin establishing roots and building a new life in community there. Having been conquered and deported by military force, the exiles are given the surprising challenge of ‘seeking the peace and prosperity’ of their new neighbourhoods.
Christians live as strangers and exiles in a world that has not yet received Jesus as King. Yet, Jeremiah reminds us to move away from private, inward-looking religious communities and out into the world; to move into public spaces and address issues affecting those who suffer from political, social, and cultural insecurity and discrimination. All of us are called to seek shalom for the cities and neighbourhoods where we are placed.
When I asked a friend working in a local council how Christians might best support her, she said we could give praise for the tens of thousands of local authority workers and councillors who know their communities well and have a heart to serve them. She asked for prayers for compassion, creativity, and perseverance for local authorities that are often underfunded and undervalued, but work to safeguard the most vulnerable in society.
If you know someone serving in local government, how might you reach out to encourage them today? As you look at your own local community, how might you partner with those in authority to seek its peace and prosperity?
Katherine works in communications for the Civil Service