November 2017

Dear Friends,

I don't know if you have got fed up with hearing the name, let alone all that goes with `Brexit'  as it is being discussed, around what is or isn't happening, what should or shouldn't happen and who should lead or not lead the negotiations! We know ultimately that this is all important for the future, even if we still wrangle over the referendum debate and the implication of the vote!

November 11th brings the arguments over Europe, our future relationship and how we must respect one another into the context of the millions of lives lost and deeply affected through the European conflicts of the 20th Century and the men and women who gave so much for the freedom of this Continent from tyranny and sin. When we stand with our head bowed to remember the Fallen we don't think of division between people of different language, culture, colour or creed, but of people of courage and duty who united to restore the hope of peace, freedom and dignity for all without the fear of submission, hatred and oppression.

We are allowing ourselves within Britain to be divided- to almost celebrate division as a badge of honour, whether it be political, social, financial, cultural or geographical. To do so is to become introspective, angry, distracted, dismissive and abusive. There are so many things that should be uniting us- helping to get people off the streets, reducing poverty levels, improving access to health care, good education, a reconnection with what it means to live in community, reducing the levels of stress and increasingly low self esteem amongst young people etc.

It is easy to blame politicians, to ridicule `do gooders' and think that somebody else is responsible. Loving God is a personal choice- there is much to commend our exploring of values that underpin such a relationship. Loving our neighbour- the other Commandment Jesus linked with loving God is another challenge and one I don't think as a Nation we are doing very well at, at the moment. Don't get me wrong- individually there are some incredibly generous, thoughtful and selfless people at work in our, and other people's lives and communities. As a Nation though, we focus on suspicion, of thinking about `my needs' and `what I want,' of separating ourselves from anyone who is different, to the cost of the common good.

Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday call us to come together as one and as we say thank you, perhaps we might pledge to give of yourself in the service of our neighbour, whoever they may be and to appreciate those who do try to make a difference to our lives and nation and where we might be unhappy with progress, to offer something positive and life changing. 

Every blessing

Canon Tony