Pastoral Letter: May 2017

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Where were you when you heard the news?

I was having coffee in a Motorway Service Station, when several people said, ‘there is going to be an election!’ At first I was as little suspicious, but then it was confirmed, having voted for a new Mayor in May, we will all be going back on June 8th, to have our say in who should govern our country.
If ‘Brenda of Bristol’ is to be believed then many people won’t bother – having had enough of politics – thank you very much. But I think that is a dis-service to all who gave their lives just so we could live our lives in a free society, and exercise choice and abide what the majority choose, respecting those whose views differ from our own.
Where I was a curate, the Vicar made a point of praying for each of the main political parties when the turn for their conference came; recognising the good intentions and sincerity of different views. We should pray for all in politics.
We could be cynical, and think our individual vote makes very little difference; sometimes though, it’s the small actions in life which do have an effect, if, we are patient enough to wait. A kind gesture an offer of support, these are the small things that often-separate Christians out, the way they treat others.
So, what should Christians care about over the next two months?
First, we should see through personal attacks on politicians. We may not like their politics, but that’s no excuse to demean them, digging up past mistakes, failures, or their personal appearance. That’s bullying and it is wrong.
Second, I think we must look beyond what will benefit us personally, to what will be the greater good.
• How can scarce resources be used for maximum effect?
• What laws will give people dignity, worth, security and hope?
• Not just in times of plenty, but in life’s lean years, in periods of austerity?

Third, we must be vigilant seeing through promises, impossible targets, and downright dishonesty to uncover true intentions. To say one thing. then do another does not give you credibility and respect; the electorate are not stupid. ‘Fake news’ is the modern way of describing it; I call it something else
Realistically, most of us are creatures of habit, and probably don’t give a great deal of thought to whom we vote for, looking at the party more than the person. No single party can claim the endorsement of Christians, and we shall differ where we put our X on June 8th.
Whatever the outcome, it is the Bible’s belief that all authority, finally comes not just from the ballot box, but from God. Those who emerge as victors bear a huge responsibility, for they will answer to God for their actions, choices, mistakes. As shall we all.
Pray, please, for this moment in our nation’s life; for a fair and honest campaign, truthful statements, intentions, and for humility rather than arrogance in those who seek our support.
Best wishes, Ian

[The inaugural West Midlands mayoral election was held on 4 May 2017 to elect the Mayor of the West Midland The election was won by Conservative Andy Street.]

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