A message from Bishop Christine as we prepare to leave the European Union
Dear brothers and sisters,
One of the many people who has had a major influence in my life is the late Bishop Sehon Goodridge, who was Bishop of the Windward Isles. During my ordination training he came to talk to us and he said‘there are two kinds of people in this world, those who see difference as a gift and those who see difference as a problem’. He was particularly reflecting on the evil of racism but his words are a challenge to us in the whole of our lives and in particular, how we regard ‘the other’. With some kind of difference it is easy to see gift, but in some of the things we hold most dear, it is a another matter altogether.
Friday 31stJanuary 2020 is a day of significance in the story of our nation and marks one of those times when it is most challenging to see difference as a gift. Our different beliefs about Brexit have divided friends, families and the whole country. Unlike other significant dates in history when the whole country has been united in either grief or joy, this date is one of a whole range of powerful emotions, expressing the division we have lived with over the last three or more years.
In this context, as Christians called to be agents of transformation and reconciliation in the communities we serve, how do we fulfil this calling? Well as a start, those of us who voted to leave should have a special care for our brothers and sisters who are feeling great sadness, avoiding any kind of triumphalism. And those of us who voted to remain should allow our brothers and sisters who are feeling exhilarated at the path we have taken to express something of that hopeful joy. Many of us of course have very mixed emotions and that needs to be respected and allowed as well, and gives us a hint of all that we are being called to hold on behalf of others.
In all of this I am finding a book called ‘The Prophetic Imagination’ by Walter Brueggemann to be illuminating. Brueggemann explores the callings of the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah. God calls Jeremiah to penetrate the numbness and complacency of a ‘we’ve never had it so good’ society by calling them to grief. Only grief can penetrate the numbness. God’s people are called to grief but not to ‘get stuck’ in grief. Beyond the grief, Isaiah calls people to energy and hope. Herein I think lies a clue to our task. We are called to hold lament, grief, hope and joy, knowing that with our loving God, all is held, nothing is lost.
Above all, we are called at this moment of history to pray for our political leaders, for the people of this country, for our brothers and sisters in Europe and for the grace and courage to live out our calling to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace,