During the keynote address given by Revd Inderjit Bhogal OBE at Conference 2014, I was struck by a question that has consistently nagged at me: How do we fight apathy? How do we learn to care more deeply and love more fully? Many different answers probably exist for these questions, but the perspective shared by Revd Inderjit really spoke to the heart of what faith, justice and reconciliation are all about.
I've always thought that passion was not a tap we can turn on and off. Rather, it flows and wells up naturally as we encounter our sparks. Over time though, our sparks can fizzle and wane. Revd Inderjit spoke of his involvement in the Northern Ireland peace process as part of the Corrymeela community. For decades, a sustained pursuit of reconciliation led to lethargy, a situation in which people began to lose their ability to speak out.
To our pursuits of justice and reconciliation - those "ongoing and endless tasks" as Revd Inderjit put it, tiredness is a silent and deadly diffuser of progress. What helps fight apathy is vision of what we are building towards. A constant reminder, reawakening and reassessing of what our vision is can drive away the temptation to give in.
Challenging us to redefine our vision, Revd Inderjit shared his dream of sanctuary. "We must work to end hatred and hostility," he said. "And we must build harmonious and hospitable communities, where all are welcomed, valued and safe." A world in which all have access to safe places of refuge and, ultimately, a home with a garden and a tree. A world in which peace is not the end but only the beginning; the start of true healing between communities and individuals.
We are prophets with the ability and calling to speak out for our vision. "Prophets do not predict," as Revd Inderjit reminded us. "They proclaim." We need to listen to the voices of those within and outside faith communities who are prophetic. One simple but powerful way to speak and live as prophets today is to ask the question, "What are we proclaiming?" Imagine, discover and assert that dream.
As a follower of Christ, one of the great gifts offered to us by the cross is freedom. We feel tired and strained to carry on when we view the cause as our own burden, something we have built ourselves and must therefore nurture with our own resources. In fact, God's victory has already been won; the power of the cross - the power we must draw from - is in surrender. As Revd Inderjit said, Christ's power was won through powerlessness. He submitted and conformed to God's will. Our surrender does not happen anywhere else but at the foot of the cross. Returning to that place - a place of humility and sanctuary - enables us to renew the call to seek peace and reconciliation.
Get organised with a fresh vision of peace and reconciliation. When we seek God and draw from the power of the cross, our vision for justice will be driven by the grace and will of God. And God is never tired.