Here’s my latest Credo article – due to appear in the Newark Advertiser this week.
I am writing this on the weekend before we are due to find out what is going to happen with Brexit. There is to be a second vote on Theresa May’s ‘deal’ on 12 March, and then, depending on the outcome of that, there may be further votes on other related issues. We are, of course, due to leave the EU on 29 March.
By the time you read this the future of our country may be somewhat clearer. Equally it may not.
Now this isn’t a column about Brexit – I think there have been enough of those over the last 33 months. I have my own views, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to share them here. What I want to talk about arises from a book I am reading at the moment.
Every year the Archbishop of Canterbury commissions a book to be studied in Lent (that’s the period leading up to Easter). This year’s book contains 40 Bible Studies, one for each day of the Lent period, and it’s called ‘Reconciliation’. What an apt subject for our current times. Although I have so far only read the first few sections (we’re only 5 days into Lent after all) the author, Muthara Swamy, is already making a strong case that reconciliation is at the heart of the Christian faith.
Christians believe that we are reconciled to God through Jesus, but we are also called to be reconciled to our neighbours and even our enemies. (You might want to read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10 for what ‘neighbour’ means: Hint – it’s not the people who live next door.) To come to a mutual understanding means recognising another’s point of view and then working with them to find a way of getting along together. This is true in so many aspects of life.
The fact that not everyone is the same should be the subject of rejoicing not anxiety. Our culture has undoubtedly been enriched by the inputs of numerous different communities: where would we be without the curry house, the Chinese take-away and the pizza? But it seems that we are living in an era where differences aren’t celebrated but are exploited for political ends.
Returning briefly to Brexit the two sides, aided and abetted by the media (both mainstream and social), have not pulled back from denigrating each other’s arguments, often in very harsh terms. But ultimately, whatever the outcome, we will be left to live with the consequences as a country. If we are to thrive we will need to find a way to put our differences behind us and to get on with life in a different future.
Muthara Swamy quotes St. Paul‘s letter to the Galatians:
‘The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’
I for one pray that all these qualities will be in evidence in the weeks and months to come.