2 Before Advent - Midst Brexit Debate


Before Advent - 18 November 2018 Yr B 10.15am Narborough - In a week in which the jewellery of the last Queen of France Marie Antoinette has come up for auction I turn to Edmund Burke and a quotation from his; Reflections on the French Revolution; “Politics and pulpit are terms that have little point of agreement. No sound ought to be heard in Church but the healing voice of Christian charity…. Surely the church is a place where one day’s truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and animosities of mankind” I imagine many after the last few days of incessant chatter from Westminster might be wanting to escape from the chaos of Parliament that we are witnessing at the present time and in Burke’s words have a truce from all the political chatter. Prime Minister Harold Wilson was famously attributed with saying “a week in politics is a long time” I imagine Prime Minister Teresa May might well want to say 24 hours is a long time in politics. Yes, you might well want to leave all of that at the church door and escape into a sanctuary of calm and heavenly thought within this place. In my forty odd years of preaching I have always sought to present a balanced view – not favouring any party politics but also to address the issues of the day. The question we should each be asking as a Christian community and as Christian individuals is what is our responsibility to the needs and concerns of the world? Is praying for peace and for refugees in war torn countries sufficient? – what steps can we take; what steps does the gospel encourage us to take to live out a true concern for our neighbour in whatever their circumstance? Can we by our influence, our prayer, our concern, our money and the offering of our lives change despair into hope, injustice to justice, corruption to honest dealings so that we can bring to birth freedom, justice, security and peace. If we unpick our readings from holy scripture today we might well feel the hand of God prompting us. In the Book of Daniel – as Daniel interprets the word of God he declares; a protector of your people shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish but your people shall be delivered followed by a promise of resurrection. In the letter to the Hebrews we are reminded that every priest daily offers the sacrifice for sins but Christ offers his sacrifice once for all and the letter goes on to encourage us to consider how we can provoke one another to love and good deeds and not to neglect to meet with one another. Whilst the passage from Mark’s gospel – part of the Little Apocalypse – i.e. of the end things - speaks of a time of crisis when not one stone will be left upon another – all will be thrown down. But the writer urges people not to panic for the ultimate sovereignty lies with God. It is nevertheless a warning to see that no-one leads you astray and that nation will rise against nation and there will be tribulations of many kinds. There is always danger in choosing scriptural texts to prove your point whether it is the Bible, the Koran or the Old Testament for Judiasm. But being aware of those dangers and leaving aside party politics it does seem to me that within today’s readings there is food for thought in the midst of all the Brexit options. There is little doubt that we are as a nation at a point of crisis – that is, a point of choice. We are not alone in that and the nations of Europe equally face their own choices as we seek to meet together and work for the good of all. Just as Israel was at a point of crisis when King Cyrus came to their rescue. As a Christian community we should I believe seek to be informed about the issues of the day Not just from a personal point of view about what will benefit me the most, but rather seeing the wider picture of the implications for all -because we are surely becoming an ever increasingly divided nation - whether socially, economically or constitutionally; and we are also living in an ever increasingly polarised world. The gospel calls us to live at peace with one another – loving God and loving neighbour are the two great commands. But those commands have to be lived out in the face of those things that separate us. It is Archbishop Tutu who wrote “There is No Future without Forgiveness” and he reminds us that our relationships one to another are central to our existence as human beings. Reconciliation after conflict is not easy but it is the only way forward if we are not to destroy ourselves. Once the dust settles on this present crisis, that we find ourselves in, then the nation will need to find ways to come together again as commended by that quotation from the letter to the Hebrews. If Archbishop Justin will be remembered for one thing it is the importance he lays upon the need for reconciliation. If as a Christian community we should be informed about these things – then as Christian individuals we should offer it all to God in prayer. It is in prayer that we in part influence and inform the world around us. Not as a last resort, not as a way of drawing God’s attention to all that is going on, but rather as a way of bringing the power of the Spirit to bear on the issues before us and on our relationship to one another as we tussle with those issues. Offering prayer in the solitude of our own homes but also joining in the opportunities for prayer throughout the week as listed on the pew news. If we want politicians and our neighbours to take us seriously then we need to demonstrate that we take seriously our faith and the claims it has upon us and the issues of the day and that we are serious in the God given task we have received - and by which the world judges us. We are reminded on a number of occasions in the scriptures that it is not by our might alone that the world is changed or influenced but by the power of God working in us to effect a respectful way forward in all that confronts so many people at this time. Let us engage in prayer to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in bringing a good outcome for all as the nation moves forward in this important debate Canon Stuart Nairn