Who was it that said a Christian should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other? Although I don’t have a national newspaper any more, I do still find a local newspaper an invaluable source of information about the community we serve.
For example, on Tuesday, I read about the celebrations planned for Devonport Park on July 18th which include the opening of the restored bandstand. I know how hard folk have worked over the years to make the park a place which local residents are proud of, and I am sure it will be a wonderful occasion.
But then there are stories that hit the headlines about our area for the wrong reason. For example, a story that day of a barmaid in a local pub scarred in a glassing attack, or a local resident charged with racially abusing a policeman. Such incidents are of course rare, and crimes are only perpetrated by only a very small minority of folk around here. But if the good news of Jesus really is good news, I am always led to ask how even this minority might realise there is a better way to live. This in turns raises huge issues about how we as a church connect with our local community, that I don’t have the full answer t0 … And while it’s easy to focus on the criminals, I am also mindful that we need to pray for the victims who have been affected, and that somehow we might reach them too.
Reading a local paper really can affect your prayer life. But then again, if we do not pray for the community we serve, and pray specific, genuine prayers about real situations, then who will?