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Earthly Powers

Tomorrow is the beginning of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay in Cornwall. The UK Government's stated aim is to 'use the UK’s G7 Presidency to unite leading democracies to help the world fight and then build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, more prosperous future.'

We are told also of seven 'ministerial tracks' throughout the UK presidency, seeking to promote prosperity and championing free trade; protecting people’s health and global resilience against future pandemics; protecting our planet; and championing democracy and human rights.

These are massive and laudable goals. They do not clash with a Gospel that proclaims peace with justice for all. Far from it - we might truly hope that the results of this summit might be for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Jesus has an uneasy relationship with earthly authorities. Despite Paul's injunctions to pray for rulers (which we rightly should, and do, daily, at Great St Mary's) we have to remember that we follow One who called Herod a fox; and, in His close encounter with Pilate, pitted the power of Truth against the truth of power.

How do we go out about praying for a summit like this, while remaining faithful to Christ? Tomorrow, the beginning of the summit, is also the Feast of St Barnabas. We are told in Acts that Barnabas was gracious and generous. So perhaps we can pray for that spirit of generosity and grace to be alive in Carbis Bay. We are also told that Barnabas means 'son of encouragement', though the Greek has more to do with comfort, consolation and strength. So we can be praying too for those who need these blessings - especially the oppressed, the impoverished, and the browbeaten - that the efforts of earthly powers might bring about a heavenly kingdom.

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