Helping others with their burdens is not a matter of prescriptive advice based on dogma or prejudice, or trying to take charge of others’ lives, says Savi Hensman, drawing deeply on Christian scriptural wisdom. Instead it involves being willing to listen, learn and engage.
If Church of England leaders continue to discriminate against even those lesbians and gays who have made considerable sacrifices out of respect for church discipline, there will be considerable damage to its credibility as a force for love and justice in the world, says Savi Hensman.
Sharing ideas at a local, regional and national level, and discussing how to respond to the threat of cuts, will not always be easy, says Savi Hensman. But it is vital if those who are poorest and most vulnerable are to be protected and a government-led agenda based on false premises appropriately resisted.
Through the Gospel of resurrection, says Savi Hensman, God is not just a remote ruler, but intimately present, able to empower the despairing and defeated so that they can play their part in transforming the world.
A UK government review of local authority duties has raised further fears about the future of social services, says Savi Hensman/ Yet, against a background of harsh spending cuts, this is also an opportunity for people and civil society organisations - including churches and faith bodies - to declare whether they believe that children and adults should be able to get the support they need.
Baptism is much more than a comforting ritual, says Savi Hensman. It is to be marked with the sign of a condemned criminal, to refuse imprisoning and narrow identities, to face up to mortality, and to be immersed in a new world where justice and peace reign.
Overall, established Church of England leaders – in contrast to those of some other churches – have been only mildly critical of a government introducing some of the harshest economic and social policies in recent decades, says Savi Hensman. Fidelity to the radical message of the Gospel, and to the vocation of the Christian community, requires more.
Drastic cuts imposed by the UK government will result in a sharp rise in child poverty, the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates, but children’s services run by local authorities are already severely overstretched in many areas. The situation is likely to become much worse says Savi Hensman.
It is all too easy for the state to become an idol, yet duty to humanity can sometimes outweigh obedience to the authorities, says Savi Hensman. The conscience case of atheist Michael Lyons is one that should cause Christians, among others, to think.