Happy New Year!
2016 has got everyone talking. Politicians, journalists, historians, faith leaders and cultural commentators all recognise the importance of this particular New Year. Its significance goes beyond the usual anticipation that is associated with New Year’s resolutions, hopes and predictions.
2016 is a year of centenaries. In this year, we find ourselves one hundred years on from major historical events that significantly shaped, and defined, who we are today. The anniversaries of 2016 create a poignant moment in the life of our nation as we remember two events. From 24th to 29th April, the Easter Rising, a rebellion led by Irish Republicans, quashed by the British Army, which would pave the way to Irish independence. On 1st July, the Battle of the Somme, a costly World War I battle in Northern France where thousands of men from the Ulster and Irish divisions were killed.
2016 is a year to reflect as we remember. Whilst most agree that both these events leave an enduring legacy in the life of our nation, some will disagree over how we should remember them. The nature of these events, and their place within the landscape of our unique history, will unsurprisingly strain existing, long-standing, divisions. Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘Sunday Sequence’, Very Rev Dr. Trevor Morrow, former Presbyterian Moderator, acknowledged that there exists two dominant, and opposing, narratives in Northern Ireland. Most of us will only live in one narrative, reflecting on significant moments in history and remembering them in a way that reinforces our identity.
As Christians, we have been adopted into a different story. Very Rev Dr. Morrow reminded us that we live within an alternative narrative, that of the Kingdom of God. This narrative has implications on how we engage with the history of 1916, for our story is coloured by hope and trust in Christ. Church leaders from the major denominations in Ireland issued a New Year’s message, advocating that this year, while “remembering our past we [also] seek a true vision for our future” by “strengthening our resolve to live together in harmony” and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 2016, we long to see Christians unite in prayer for healing of the past, honour in the present and hope for the future. So we seek to live in the alternative narrative of the Kingdom of God and we resolve to pursue unity and a true vision for our future. We believe it’s possible to remember without reliving the past. We see people released to dream a different story, a shared story, one that can be celebrated and remembered for the next 100 years to come. Join us in a prophetic movement of prayer that unites people of faith from all denominations to cover 100 days with prayer for our land.