Sunday, July 03, 2005

Edinburgh march

Photo: Richard Hanson/Tearfund

I was in Edinburgh for the G8/makepovertyhistory protests yesterday. I got there by coach setting off at 6am, but ended up going home on a chartered train with some cyclists who had cycled to Edinburgh from all over the country but especially Southampton, arriving the previous day. I had a friend who had cycled with them from York and I took his ticket as he had made alternative arrangements. The cyclists were all carrying the flags pictured above I ended up waving one for a while, feeling a bit like a character from the Lord of the Rings. For more pictures from Tearfund click here.

It was the first protest I've ever been to, and it was a slightly weird experience. It was enjoyable in spite of the long journey there and back, but in the end I felt a like we did nothing all day. That probably is because we did. There were no leaders there to shout too (not that I would have done if there was) only people who agreed with you. Other than marching, all you really did was sit around listening to music/speakers, and due to a combination of circumstances I did not even get to do that. That was slightly frustrating, and slightly weird. One frustrating thing was to see how Live8 sucked up all the media coverage, which while a good thing in itself, meant that of all the days to hold a protest yesterday was probably the least strategic time to do so.

Another striking thing was how branded the event was. First of all the makepovertyhistory campaign has always been self-consciously very branded, especially the 'white band' idea. Secondly though, all the major development charities (and a few other organisations) were there and all were handing out banners and whistles all branded very prominently with their own logo. The worst of these was the Daily Mirror, which people objected to so much they ripped it off. Oxfam gained some of my respect for being the most discrete.

It was a beautiful day in a beautiful part of the city, which meant it was hard to think about the poor, even with all the banners. I fear that I also failed to put prayer at the centre of it as much as I should have done. Only God can make poverty history, and it will probably take Jesus' coming to do that.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away...

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price...

He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 21:1-4; 22:17; 22:21)


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