Day of prayer for the media

I have a print photograph from the same place as the digital image accompanying this post. It’s from the Newseum in Washington DC, where there’s a memorial to journalists who have been killed in the process of doing their job. My photo is from 17 or 18 years ago. There were a lot of names on the memorial then, but the thing that struck me was that there was also a lot of blank space. They expected journalists to continue dying in the course of doing their work.

This Sunday, the Media Net are asking Christians to pray for all those who work in the media. Not just journalists, but all those in the media; the sound guys, photographers, writers, producers… Honestly, I can’t think of a time when this is more needed.

We maybe don’t realise how significantly the media influences our culture. It shapes the way we see the world, not just in the stories that hit the headlines, but in the choice of storylines in EastEnders or through the images that fill the advertising space at the bus stop.

And yet, for years Christians were encouraged to avoid media jobs because, ‘they require you to work on Sunday’, or, ‘because your morals will be eroded away’. At least, those were the reasons I remember being given for why I shouldn’t pursue a media career. I think we are now seeing the result of this advice – take the Christian influence out of a community and see where it ends up.

Only our media aren’t going anywhere. TV, radio, magazines and adverts shape our culture and we need to encourage and support the Christians working in this environment to shine like a city on a hill.

But, the day of prayer for the media isn’t just about the Christians. We need to be praying for others in the industry to strive for truth and wisdom in the stories they are involved in telling.

So, what do you pray and who can you pray for?

The Media Net website has a page full of good ideas. You can also sign up to join in the Thunderclap on the 28th May.

Personally, I’m going to Tweet some people that I have contact with in the media and ask them what I can pray for them. Some are Christians, others aren’t, but it’s not bad to ask.

If you need more inspiration, the following audio clip is Hazel Southam on the Signal podcast. She’s a Christian and a journalist who works for a host of outlets. In this, she explains why this prayer is important for her. Hazel worked with me five years ago when we were involved in Biblefresh.

The video below is from the Media Net. Why not share it now on social media or use it in your service on Sunday when you encourage others to pray.

Header image by Ross Catrow from Richmond – James V. Walker, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36930260

Preaching on John 9: The testimony of a man born blind

I spoke on John 9 last night at Haddenham Baptist Church. It’s a wonderful passage, that comes at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles where the Jews would remember their time in the wilderness, living in tents while waiting for their more permanent home.

The things that I found most striking about this passage were:

Jesus isn’t the main character

After a pretty intense couple of chapters, set during the second half of the Feast, where Jesus talks about who he is, we arrive at the healing of a man who had been born blind. Jesus makes mud and puts it on his eyes and then sends him off to wash in the Pool of Siloam. That’s about it from Jesus until the end of the chapter when he comes to find the man he’d healed so that he can know who Jesus really is.

The rest of the chapter is the man’s testimony, first to his neighbours and then to the Pharisees about what had happened to him.

Fake news isn’t new

Anyone who thinks that fake news is a social media phenomenon needs to think again. This passage is littered with groups trying to put their own spin on the man’s story to suit their worldview.

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.

They already had the testimony of the people to say that this was the man who was once blind, and the statement of the man himself.

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

The Pharisees had made their mind up as to who Jesus was, despite evidence to the contrary.

29 We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

This is a complete lie. In the previous chapters, the Pharisees had already commented on the fact that Jesus had come from Galilee.

In clinging to their own world view, the Pharisees can’t see the truth of the evidence put before them.

Seeing clearly

It’s interesting that the first time the blind man gets to see Jesus is at the end of the passage. He would have set off to the pool in the opening verses without having seen Jesus and by the time he came back Jesus was gone.

So the main bulk of his testimony was based on the understanding that being healed in this way could only be done by someone good with power over creation.

Then in the last few verses, he meets Jesus, and understanding fully worships him.

All that evidence

There’s a sting in this story for the Pharisees.

41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

All the evidence the Pharisees have. Not just in what they have seen over the last few days, but all the knowledge they have in knowing the Scriptures, means that they should really be able to interpret what’s going on and who Jesus is – but all that knowledge seems to mean nothing.

There’s a caution for us in there too. Do we misinterpret evidence because of our own ideas and biases? Do we avoid asking questions because we are afraid of the answers we may get (or just ignore the answers anyway)?

Twitter connections

Last week I was hanging out in London, meeting with mission leaders who face challenges in how to communicate about their work and using Twitter to pass comment on the local skyline.

My observations lead to the following conversation…

I was genuinely interested in visiting The Globe Church, having stumbled upon their website a few months back. I was curious to see what a church plant, close to the centre of London, was like. They’ve only been around for a year or so.

I wasn’t disappointed. The evening meeting was busy with a crowd of what looked like, young professional people from across the city. There was food, good conversation, and I was given a few minutes to share something about Bible translation, which was kind of them considering I was just a random visitor.

The most exciting thing, for me, aside from seeing a young church plant in action, were the conversations we had around the table. Praying for the places where people work and the small office Christian gatherings that were happening and for one person to have the opportunity to talk to her colleague about her faith, as they were both away from home on a training week. Honestly, the missional zeal for what was going on in the city was energising and I loved it.

Thanks, people of The Globe Church, that was a great evening.