Today, 13th July, it is 38 years since the Live Aid concert, with synchronised performance in the UK and America, raising millions for famine relief in Ethiopia. The whole event closed with the American part of the concert ending with the song We Are The World.
The opening verses say
There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all.
We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We’re all a part of God’s great big family
And the truth – you know love is all we need.
That song, by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson, was about the need for us all to make the intentional choice to make a difference for the world, to be the people who help each other, to recognise our togetherness – and that in our unity, as we help others in their human need, we are helping our own humanity. What hurts the world, hurts us all. In helping others, as the refrain puts it, ”There’s a choice we’re making, We’re saving our own lives.”
The song reminds us that we are all a part of God’s family; implicitly it reminds us that we are commanded to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matt 22:39), that we all have a contribution to make (1 Cor. 12:12) and that we are all valued by God. When Ritchie was asked, in the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic, if he were going to write a new version of We Are The World, he responded that whenever he tried, he kept coming back to the same words; the lyrics are still just as relevant today. The challenges get ever more complex and spread to touch everyone.
The problems come when we stop feeling these as our hurts, our responsibilities, and see them as someone else’s concern. Jesus sent his followers out into the world to tell his good news and to show how, through him, the Kingdom of Heaven has come near. Trusting in Jesus, the disciples were empowered and sent out to be Christlike in the world, to feed, to heal, to bring justice, to be very practical in carrying his invitation to all. They couldn’t hang around, hoping that somebody else would take the first step towards this better world. Importantly, Jesus sent them into action with others and with his presence; they had to support each other to be players in making the difference. They had a shared responsibility and a shared love.
38 years on from Live Aid, the call for shared responsibility to the world and intentional choice to make a change is even more urgent. 2000 years on, the call to become a family of welcome exhibiting a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven, to offer Christ’s compassion and justice, to commit to mutual support and mutual generosity of heart (even and maybe especially where this challenges us) in the service of Jesus is just as personal and vital.
May God help us to help the world.
Image – royalty-free photo from PickPic www.pickpic.com