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Bishop's Message

Prayers Needed for Northern Ireland

 

January 8, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you may be aware, in recent days tragedy and violence has once again broken out in Northern Ireland, especially in and around East Belfast. A decision by the Belfast City Council to limit the flying of the Union Flag on the Belfast City Hall to certain days has triggered protests and acts of violence, bringing back the memories and wounds of the past.

Please join with me in holding up in prayer +Bishop Harold Miller, all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Diocese of Down and Dromore, and all the people of Northern Ireland (especially East Belfast) during this very difficult and dangerous time.

Dear Heavenly Father, please send your holy angels to watch over and protect Bishop Harold, his family, all the people of the Diocese of Down and Dromore, and the people of Northern Ireland, especially in and around East Belfast. We ask, Lord Jesus, that You would speak to and through Bishop Harold and all those who are working to bring peace and order into the current chaos. Guide and lead them in the power of the Holy Spirit, empowering them to be a channel of Your love and mercy and healing grace. We ask, Lord, that You would bring healing to the wounds of the past and present. May Your perfect will be done. In Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.


Your Brother in Christ,

+Bill

The following is an overview of the current situation and a prayer request from Bishop Miller, taken from the Diocese of Down and Dromore website.

From The Right Reverend Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore

The last days have been tragic and difficult ones in Northern Ireland, and especially in East Belfast which is in the Diocese of Down and Dromore. Protests have taken place about a decision of Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag only on designated days on Belfast City Hall, rather than 365 days a year, and many of these protests have led to scenes of violence and mayhem, which have become a regular occurrence, and which have been broadcast throughout the world.

Lying behind all of this is the sense in parts of the loyalist community that they have lost a great deal over the past years, especially in terms of identity, and that has led to a fear of the future being uncertain. These protests have given a platform to a new generation of younger 'loyalists' who have never been through the suffering of the earlier 'troubles' but who have imbibed the sectarianism of the past. It is also happening alongside the dangerous re-grouping of dissident republicans which has been the concern of the police for some time.

Those who have experienced the divisions and violence of the past in Northern Ireland are deeply concerned about the potential trajectory which is in place at the moment. The adrenalin flowing, the sense of purpose and significance provided by violence, and the urban myths spread all too easily by social media - often believed and passed on without being checked out - are a dangerous and heady mix.

I have personally observed at first hand some of the violence, the throwing of petrol bombs and bricks at the police, the threatening atmosphere of gathered crowds in the semi-darkness, the burning of cars, and the fear in old people and families living nearby as their neighbourhoods are rubbished. I have asked how the Gospel of the Prince of Peace can be proclaimed and lived out in this context, and I have been brought back again and again to the vulnerability of the Christ-child, born in a world of dangerous political intrigue and power-broking.

I am asking all of our Christian brothers and sisters wherever they are, to pray for us: for wisdom for the churches in what they say and live, for the grace of God to extend even to those intent on destruction, and for the Spirit of Love and Peace to be poured out again, so that we may learn to live together in harmony and to love one another with the costly love of forgiveness and reconciliation across all divides. Click here to pray the Peace Prayer on Vimeo.


+Harold
Down and Dromore

 

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