July 2016

August 1, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

We may be the United Kingdom but we are a deeply divided country. A result of 52:48 in the EU Referendum poll is clear evidence of that. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar voted to remain whilst England and Wales voted to leave therefore it is only natural for some in Scotland to call for another independence vote and seek to remain within the EU. In England and Wales London and most of the large university cities voted to remain, giving credence to those who claim there is a division between young and old and between London and the rest of England. The Conservative MP’s, and even the Cabinet, were divided with some taking the lead in the remain campaign and others in the leave campaign. The Labour Party is deeply divided with many MP’s in fundamental disagreement with rank and file members over Jeremy Corbyn as leader. Even the leave campaigners are divided over exactly what our relationship with the EU should be and the timescale for the ‘divorce’. Sadly the divisions do not stop there.

Many of our politicians are out of touch with reality. Their wealth means that a small rise in the price of fuel, bread, milk or whatever is not even noticed by them. On the other hand there are many people in Britain who have to rely on Foodbanks and charitable handouts or go without themselves in order that their children may be fed. The nation is divided by the transport we use, the education we receive, the health care we have, the housing we live in and the employment prospects we have as well as by gender, race and age. Sadly even the church is often seen as being part of the ‘haves’ in society. How do we respond to such a situation?

The Bible in general and the words of Jesus in particular have a lot to say that will help us in our response. We pray religiously ‘Your kingdom, come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ yet we do precious little about achieving that reality. Jesus tells us to ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’ and follows it up with a very challenging story that we know as ‘The Good Samaritan’. It is difficult for us to fully understand the impact of this story but many Jews would have found it outrageous and offensive as they had been brought up to have absolutely nothing to do with Samaritans. The idea of a Samaritan caring for a Jew, touching them, sharing with them was abhorrent to them. So in the context of 21st century Britain who is my neighbour?

The short answer is everyone. That includes my next door neighbours, the people I meet at church, at leisure, when shopping etc and the people who live in my community. It includes alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless people and those who commit anti-social acts when drunk or for fun. It includes the economic migrant coming to the UK from Romania so that he can earn enough money to look after his family and the political migrant fleeing war torn Syria. It includes the labourer in the tea plantation in Kenya working to provide our morning cup of tea and the family in the refugee camp in Eritrea who need our support of Christian Aid simply to survive. The long answer is the whole world is my neighbour and must be treated as we expect to be treated simply because God created it that way. After all there is only one Kingdom of God.