I have just sent a prayer request to all our churches, in the West of England, and post it here too, in the hope many others will join us:
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ.
I am taking this opportunity to call us to pray together, as a Baptist network of churches, made up of over 7000 people in the West of England.
This week the Coalition Government is expected to present its consultation paper on the proposed change in the legal definition of marriage so as to open the institution of marriage to same-sex partnerships.
I do not believe it is necessary for me to outline the understanding of marriage held by, what I am convinced is, the view of the vast majority of Baptist Christians. Neither is this intended to be regarded in any sense as negative towards people who consider themselves to be homosexually oriented. However, I do think it is a time to pray for the distinctive nature of marriage, between one man and one woman, to be upheld.
Our origins as a Baptist movement arose from a recognition neither the king, emperor, or Prime Minister, or coalition government, is Lord of the Church, but Jesus Christ is, both King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Just as our forebears were willing to make a stand regarding who decides whether people are baptised in the Church, then we need to be prepared, to both pray and speak up, in this situation. This is not an argument for a blurring of the separation between church and state; rather recognition our government is threatening to cross the boundary lines of their own arena of authority.
You may consider passing on the details of the Coalition for Marriage, who have started a petition, on www.c4m.org.uk , or consulting your local MP., but it remains your prayers I am primarily asking for.
Lord, we pray for those given responsibility in governing the laws of our land: help them to seek wisdom, which is above and beyond their own, from you.
Lord, we pray for those who will speak up for marriage, as we believe you designed it, this week: give them humility, but help us all not to avoid our responsibility.
Lord, we pray for those who regard marriage as a right for all, but disregard its nature as a gift of God and especially the giver.
Lord, we pray for those whose marriage holds together by a too slender thread: help them to know the presence of Jesus, who turned water into wine.
Lord, disrupt our silence, fill our words with grace and may our actions be as yours. In Jesus’ name. Amen.