Praying for those in authority St Paul when he wrote to the Christians in Rome spent some time thinking about how they should respond to those in authority. At one level it might seem surprising - we’re talking about a tiny but growing religious sect, still protected by being seen as part of Judaism which had a special religious status in the Empire. The early Church was sometimes called ‘Jesus movement’ so we don’t think of buildings but of people and families becoming believers and taking on new patterns of believing and behaving. As it tried to work out how to be Christians found themselves with the Jews and the pagan religions and in so doing became the focus of disputes and up in front of the Roman authorities for disturbing the peace. St Paul had a good start there as he was formally a Roman Citizen - he had rights and it is thought his family had them before him. But his loyalty was to Christ and in living that out he caused a few riots - just read the Acts of the Apostles. But in his letter to the Romans he is clear we should pray for those in authority over us and we owe them due obedience as being placed there by God. Forward through 2000 years - the Roman Empire took to killing Christians, strangely it led to further growth. Christians remained when the empire fell and became a force for law, learning and care within the pagan societies which were formed. States became Christian and that caused new issues of can wars be just or not. How should the growing power of the Church be reflected in the make up of the state. How does theology and belief express its role in politics? The right of the church to comment let alone shape decision making is contested now in countries like our own which have a rich Christian history. Our position in some ways is similar to Paul’s - a minority with an important message of hope and the love of God. How are we to respond? Especially today in a time of fear and concern and medical and financial difficulties which interlock in complex ways. Prayer for those in positions of authority in our country and all others is necessary. They are having to confront colossal decisions, not just how to respond to a pandemic but to do so when climate and environment are affecting the whole of our world. There is one bit of me which is very grateful I am not making the decisions. But then I realise that I am making decisions which affect the health of others (even when it means Church buildings are closed) and the use of resources which affect our world. I too am a person who needs to be responsible. The task of Christians is not just to pray for those in authority but also to be involved as citizens in the decisions which I am making and in the ones which are made in my name. As Paul entered into disputes in proclaiming God’s love, perhaps we as Christians need to do the same.
It looks very likely that we will continue to have our 9.30 Zoom service through the month. Zoom coffee / teas - These will be advertised week by week - see if there is a date which suits and sign up through Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org. Times and groups will vary but they are relaxed opportunities to ‘meet’ people you know and some who are good to get to know