The UK is heading towards the triggering of Article 50 and exit from the European Union. In the United States, President Trump will be settling into the White House. Wars continue to rage across the Middle East, causing a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.
Our lectionary readings for this month turn time and time again to the divisions which afflict our world.
The church at Corinth was rent with factions and divisions. Paul reminds them that their faith is built not on his leadership or that of Apollos, but upon Christ and his sacrificial love.
Human disputes are set firmly in the context of God's divine rule. Winners are not to lord it over losers. The rich are not to oppress the poor and should ensure that their actions are just, in accordance with God's laws.
‘When Jesus urges us to love our enemies, he sets a standard up to which humanity has consistently failed to live.'
In a world where a President is elected but loses the popular vote, or where a country's future is decided by just 51.9% of the population, both winners and losers need to remember that it is those who fear the Lord who are blessed.
When Jesus, in Matthew 5, urges us to love our enemies, he sets a standard up to which humanity has consistently failed to live.
The ever-growing refugee crisis, to which Christian Aid is responding in Greece, Serbia, war-torn Syria and Iraq, as well as the under-reported crises in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, are testament to this failure.
If we do not live by these standards, though, our faith is like salt which has lost its saltiness; our fasting is worth no more than the hypocrites highlighted by Isaiah who use their fasting to further their own interest.
Rich and poor, powerful and powerless, winners and losers are all urged to look to God and the values expressed both in the law, of which Jesus came not to abolish a jot or a tittle, and in the life of Christ who gave himself on the Cross.
We end the month transformed, or transfigured, on the mountaintop where Peter, James, John, Moses and Elijah are all illuminated by the glory of God, as revealed in the Son in whom God is well pleased.
As we unite with others around the world to tackle violence and build peace, and as we lift our voices in unity to call on banks to use our money for good rather than fuel climate change, may we know the transfiguring, and unifying, presence of God's glory among us.
This month's reflection is written by Tim Presswood. Tim is Transitional Regional Minister for the North Western Baptist Association. He has lived and ministered in inner-city Manchester for 25 years.
Together with Clare McBeath, he is the author of Crumbs of Hope: Prayers from the City and runs the Dancing Scarecrow worship resources website.
Read our prayers for this month.
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