12 Feb MINISTER’S UPDATE
In the few days before writing this article the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have tabled a motion accusing the leaders of a particular country of stifling the reconciliation of social divisions and have asked congregations to pray for the situation. Similar pronouncements have been made by other church leaders including the President of the Methodist Conference. The country in question – Venezuela? Zimbabwe? No, he was talking about Britain, and the divisions caused and/or revealed by Brexit.
It’s an unusual situation for our country. We like to see ourselves as pragmatic and sensible when it comes to politics not prone to revolution or dramatic changes in national policy and governance. But now, we’re in a situation seemingly characterised by entrenched positions and an unwillingness to compromise. A case of “you don’t want to start from here” if a settlement can be found. And yes everything may have been resolved by the time you read this, but I doubt it.
How should we act as Christians in the current climate? What would Jesus do? Well there are plenty of example of Jesus engaging with people that others shunned. The woman at the well in John 4, the Syro-phoenician woman in Mark 7. By talking with people like the rich young ruler in Luke 18 Jesus was able to discern what really motivated him. You might say that Jesus argued with his opponents, and yes he had a running conflict with the Pharisees and others but that was because their words and actions were a barrier to others in finding a relationship with God. Perhaps most instructive is Matthew 5 where Jesus says “So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gifts there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift”
I wonder though whether in the church we are even addressing the issue? Have we talked about it or kept silent for fear of offending, particularly when we don’t know what others think? At a time though when “remoaners” have been accused of betrayal and 37% of remainers would mind if a close family member married a leave voter, if the church is to have a reconciling role in society we need to be reconciled among ourselves first. It starts with a conversation, how did we feel at the time of the referendum, how do we feel now. Let’s listen to one another, not argue, seek to understand the other’s viewpoint and pray for the reconciling love of Christ in our churches and across our nation.