Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and a record number of 180 Members of Parliament (MPs) attended the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, an annual event organised by the Christians in Parliament All-Party Parliamentary Group and sponsored by Premier.
Over 700 people gathered in Westminster Hall on Tuesday to pray, worship and hear Dr. Amy Orr Ewing speak about the significance of forgiveness in public life, the theme of this year’s event.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons kicked off the event welcoming everyone and jokingly sending a message to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“This year’s theme is power and forgiveness in public life. It’s an immensely important topic in my role as Speaker, I appreciate the need to be able to disagree well, in our political conversations. And of course, I’ve got to say, I hope it’s not as memorable this year, as it was last year. Prime Minister…”
The Speaker referred to Rev Les Isaac’s talk on integrity, which inspired former Health Secretary Sajid Javid to resign, subsequently leading to a wave of Cabinet departures and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.
Prayers for the government, parliamentarians, British society and the world were led by parliamentarians Lord Stunell, Lord Weir of Ballyhome and Carol Monaghan MP. Marsha De Cordova MP read from the Gospel of Mark before Dr Amy Or Ewing began her address.
“The big question I want to suggest to you this morning, is this: ‘Is there such a thing as forgiveness and redemption that does not minimise harm, or dehumanise, those who have suffered horror?…” Or Ewing asked.
The lecturer at the University of Aberdeen School of Divinity said the human instinct to demand justice points towards Jesus and encouraged attendees to think about how the pursuit of justice can coexist with forgiveness and redemption despite it often being perceived as a moral weakness.
“The instinct and culture the harm matters so profoundly, that a person must pay must perhaps even die some kind of social or professional death, for their transgression, points beyond itself to the echo of a story that has given meaning to millions of people around the world for over 2000 years. Jesus of Nazareth, as God incarnate, God in flesh, willingly died by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans.
“And as we heard in the reading just earlier, His death is described in the New Testament as a ransom, an offering and a sacrifice. He pays a price for the transgressions of the world. That means that forgiveness can be real. The price we all intuitively sense must be paid for harm is actually paid by Jesus.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who attended the event, sent this statement to Premier Christian News: “The work of Churches and Christian charities up and down the country strengthens our local communities immeasurably.
“The National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast holds an important place in the calendar, serving to strengthen connections between local Churches and their MPs.
“I hope today will build new local partnerships across the country to serve our local communities and, as your Prime Minister, I pass on my thanks to those attending today’s event and to all Christians up and down the UK.”
The event concluded with a rendition of the hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain.”