Tag Archives: politics

Modelling hope amidst the chaos….

The words below are words that I spoke at our church gathering on Sunday 26th June 2016. This was the Sunday immediately following the E.U referendum. These words are as pertinent today (for me at least) as they were then.

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This week we wake up in new era…there have been some seismic shifts that have taken place politically over the past few days. Some of us here will have been elated at the news that we are going to be leaving the EU. We may feel thrilled that at last our views have been heard. Others may be pretty devastated….some have indeed spoken to me of a profound sense of loss…of feeling like exiles within their own land. Within this church community we will hold a range of views and a range of emotions. 

People on both sides of the referendum have expressed a creeping sense of fear now that the genie is well and truly out of the bottle now. David Cameron has resigned…..we await to see whether Boris Johnson or someone else will be the next (and presumably unelected Prime Minister). The labour leadership is looking distinctly shaky. It looks as if Scotland may vote to declare independence from England, Wales and Northern Ireland….the whole integrity of the EU is being called into question as other nations talk about the possibility of their referenda and there is there is the constant danger of the far right rising up. 

I think that the woeful campaigns by both Leave and Remain and the woeful behaviour since have allowed us to blame the ‘other’ without ever looking at ourselves. Race, religion, class and more have all played their part in the most unpleasant domestic political campaign most of us have ever witnessed.

Whatever our views on Thursday’s vote, these monumental changes are things that we desperately need to bring to God! 

God is still God! God is still sovereign and He is still in control! 

Echoing the words of Psalm 46 are the words of a song we sing to the Dambusters theme tune…..

God is our strength and refuge,

Our present help in trouble;

and we therefore will not fear,

though the earth should change!

Though mountains shake and tremble,

though swirling floods are raging,

God the Lord of hosts is with us evermore!

 

God would say to each of us Peace…‘Be still and know that I AM God!’ 

I would ask that we be gentle with each other? Here in our church gathering, amongst our families, in our work places and our community. It would be easy to gloat in our referendum victory or rage like a spoilt child in our loss, but instead let’s seek to work together to influence the future of the UK so that it doesn’t become isolated and insular. So that we can exercise leadership in the world…so that we can build bridges and not walls, so that we can bring the values of heaven to earth……so that we can bring hope, compassion, justice, mercy and love to the places in this world where love is not!? The church has a key role to play in modelling transformative healing…..and we need to pray over the coming days, weeks and months that God helps us to do just that.

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Inaugurating the Kingdom-A City On A Hill?

Globally, this is a time of uncertainty and disequilibrium. We are currently witnessing, (mostly through the media) a rise in global terrorism that shakes our sense of stability and security to the core. We are observing a growing exodus of forcibly displaced people – a higher number than at any time since the Second World War. It would be surprising if people didn’t find this unsettling!

During times of turbulent change, people often seek refuge in all kinds of fundamentalisms. Fear can make people intolerant of tolerance and disrespectful of differing points of view. Instead of seeking the often complex, hard to understand truth, people look instead for simplistic (post-truth?) answers, soundbites and scapegoats. These scapegoats are often provided by those whose thoughts, behaviours, racial identity or appearance are different from that of the observer. This may affect how the observer acts and how they vote. This sadly permeates the thinking, actions and voting preferences of many within the global church.

Of course Christians can and should have a view about politics and current affairs. Perhaps they have more reason to do so that those of no faith. Personally, I long that followers of Jesus serve in politics at all levels (and in many of the parties) so as to bring something of the values of the Kingdom to their work here on earth. Christianity itself, however, must never be co-opted by Government or ‘the powers’. It is vital that the Church herself maintains an appropriate and critical distance, particularly in these challenging times. If she fails to do so, she will fail to be the much needed prophetic voice that she is called to be!

Sadly, at times in history (and in the present) the Church has been co-opted. God himself, however, cannot be. He is always on the side of the poor, the oppressed and the powerless all over the world. If a person is blessed, that person is called to be a blessing. If a nation is blessed, that nation is called to be a blessing!

You cannot be God’s representative on earth whilst always putting yourself ‘first.’ That is selfish. That is wrong and that is not the godly response of a ‘righteous’ person or a ‘righteous’ nation.

God has a high calling on his people; his church. He is calling her to be shaped by his own ethical, holy character….to reflect his righteousness, justice and mercy to a world filled with evil, oppression and injustice. That is the mission of God’s people. There is no mission without ethics. There is no discipleship without ethics. There is no holiness without ethics. In each case, it must be BOTH AND! Isn’t it time that a Holy Church rediscovers the ethical responsibility of her calling?

Like a ‘city on a hill,’ God’s people/his Church must serve as beacons of hope – standing in solidarity with those whom God would stand with; with those who ‘cannot speak up for themselves.’ A church in alliance with oppressive powers or a church that fails to challenge an unjust status quo is a church that deserves to lose its’ credibility. Worse, it will be a church that is failing to be church on God’s terms and on that basis God may pass his judgement. That, for me, is a sobering thought.