Today’s reflection is for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and comes from Dr Nicola Brady, the General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. The Guardian’s reflections will resume next week.
Reflection for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020 was described as a watershed moment. There was a sense that the global wave of solidarity that brought people out onto the streets during a pandemic would make it impossible to ignore the deadly consequences of institutional racism and the power imbalances that deny human dignity.
The Black Lives Matter movement has certainly sparked uncomfortable yet necessary conversations, shaking the complacency that allowed racism and xenophobia to slip down the agendas of political and civic leaders alike. It has also questioned their reliance on legislation to protect people’s rights and challenged the failure to invest in the deeper work of examining the quality of our relationships in society, the attitudes that shape them and the language that defines them.
Yet with each passing year we see continued evidence that, across the world, the powerful institutions of the state continue to treat people differently based on race, ethnicity and other facets of identity that are protected in legislation. Those who live in fear are still waiting for their watershed moment.
Despite the heightened awareness of the nature and consequences of racism in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement there is a persistent resistance to dialogue about issues of power and privilege, exclusion and alienation in society. Christians bring to this dialogue a vision of reconciliation grounded in mercy and faithfulness, justice and peace, from which we draw hope for the healing of relationships.
For this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity we are guided by the churches of Minneapolis as we seek to explore how the work of Christian unity can contribute to the promotion of racial justice across all levels of society. Through this resource, the CTBI writers’ group has also focussed our attention on the 30th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which we mark this year. The work of restoring hope through justice undertaken in Stephen’s memory continues to inspire and change lives for the better.
As we join with other Christians around the world for this year’s Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.
Dr Nicola Brady, General Secretary, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.