Revd Richard Reade
As I type this the news is dominated by the run up to the snap General Election on June 8th. We now face a month of constant commentary and analysis of the political parties and their visions for the future of our nation, in particular in the light of Brexit. As a contribution to that debate, the archbishop´s of Canterbury and York have issued a letter to be shared in each parish church − a copy will be in the entrance of church to look at, but I thought it would be helpful to pick out some of what is said, to help us as we reflect before voting.
The season of Easter invites us to celebrate and to renew our love of God and our love of neighbour, our trust and hope in God and in each other. In the midst of a frantic and sometimes fraught election campaign, our first obligation as Christians is to pray for those standing for office, and to continue to pray for those who are elected. We recognise the enormous responsibilities and the vast complexity of the issues that our political leaders face. We are constantly reminded of the personal costs and burdens carried by those in political life and by their families.
Our second obligation as Christians at these times is to set aside apathy and cynicism and to participate, and encourage others to do the same. .. The Christian virtues of love, trust and hope should guide and judge our actions, as well as the actions and policies of all those who are seeking election to the House of Commons and to lead our country.
This election is being contested against the backdrop of deep and profound questions of identity. Opportunities to renew and reimagine our shared values as a country and a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland only come around every few generations. We are in such a time.
Our Christian heritage, our current choices and our obligations to future generations and to God´s world will all play a shaping role. If our shared British values are to carry the weight of where we now stand and the challenges ahead of us, they must have at their core, cohesion, courage and stability.
Cohesion is what holds us together. The United Kingdom, when at its best, has been represented by a sense not only of living for ourselves, but by a deeper concern for the weak, poor and marginalised, and for the common good. ...
Courage, which includes aspiration, competition and ambition, should guide us into trading agreements that, if they are effective and just, will also reduce the drivers for mass movements of peoples. We must affirm our capacity to be an outward looking and generous country, with distinctive contributions to peacebuilding, development, the environment and welcoming the stranger in need. ..
Stability, an ancient and Benedictine virtue, is about living well with change. Stable communities will be skilled in reconciliation, resilient in setbacks and diligent in sustainability, particularly in relation to the environment. They will be ones in which we can be collectively a nation of ´glad and generous hearts´....
These deep virtues and practices − love, trust and hope, cohesion, courage and stability - are not the preserve of any one political party or worldview, but go to the heart of who we are as a country in all of its diversity. An election campaign, a Parliament and a Government that hold to these virtues give us a firm foundation on which to live well together, for the common good.
We keep in our prayers all those who are standing in this election and are deeply grateful for their commitment to public service. All of us as Christians, in holding fast to the vision of abundant life, should be open to the call to renounce cynicism, to engage prayerfully with the candidates and issues in this election and by doing so to participate together fully in the life of our communities.
Alleluia! Christ is risen!.