July August 2020

Dear friends,

The vice-regents and governors conspired together and then went to the king and said, “King Darius, live forever! We’ve convened your vice-regents, governors, and all your leading officials, and have agreed that the king should issue the following decree: For the next thirty days no one is to pray to any god or mortal except you, O king. Anyone who disobeys will be thrown into the lions’ den. Issue this decree, O king, and make it unconditional, as if written in stone like all the laws of the Medes and the Persians.” King Darius signed the decree. When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God. The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help.

[Daniel 6:6-12 The Message]

The tale of Daniel in the lions’ den must surely be one of the best-known stories in the whole of the Old Testament; a tale that has been told and re-told across the centuries, delighting countless generations. It is a classic example of good conquering evil; a victory against all the odds. But of course, it needed the courage of Daniel for that triumph to happen, his willingness to make a stand against the ruling elite for the things he believed in, never mind the consequences.

I really and truly want to say that, thankfully, times are very different and there is little chance of any of us being fed to the lions. But I am afraid I cannot, especially if you are a person of colour, or a different sexuality or different religion or even a different nationality to me. As I write this, the news bulletins are full of the death of George Floyd in the USA, the toppling of statues around the world and (mainly) peaceful mass demonstrations. But will we still remember his name when you get around to reading this? How many times have we tutted about such deaths, such protests in the past and forgotten it all? In a month’s time, will things have gone back to how they were before or perhaps, finally, there might be a Daniel or a Daniella who will
stand up, and keep on standing up until finally we listen and don’t forget. And do something in God’s name that we can be proud of and build statues to
commemorate.

More than ever we need people of Daniel’s stature. People ready to risk all in the cause of truth and justice, ready to hold firmly to their principles despite every attempt to sway them. Have I even a fraction of that courage and commitment to stand alongside them?

God bless and keep safe,

Yvonne

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