A message from Bishop Robert, 11 June 2024

Published: Tuesday June 11, 2024

Bishop RobertHave you made up your mind yet?

For some, the answer is no. We have not decided who to vote for or indeed if we are going to vote at all. But for many, indeed most of us, if we are to believe those who supposedly know about these things, we know where we will put our cross on election day, even though it’s still over three weeks before the polls open.

If that is so, then I wonder about the purpose of many hours and millions of pounds given to political campaigning. And perhaps of more personal interest, why should I be engaged? Would I not be better off turning off the news and finding a way to be distracted until it is all over?

I believe these next weeks are much more important that that, a time when as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called not to switch off but be engaged. I say this because the bible is a profoundly political book, and Jesus a profoundly political person. A book and a person interested in the stuff of life. Read for example the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) a collection of sayings with a bias to the poor and the marginalised that put justice and inclusion at the heart of the Gospel or the Magnificat (Luke 1) where the mighty are put down and the humble and meek exulted, the hungry filled and the rich sent empty away.  The bible challenges us to be involved, to play our part in building the Kingdom of justice, mercy and peace that Jesus proclaims and which those of us who seek to know and share Jesus’ love must by definition be committed.

These weeks do therefore matter, whether we have made up our minds or not (and of course even if we think we have made up our minds they can still be changed) because they call us to be engaged in the great debate about what sort of society we want to be, what sort of country, as we play our part in an increasingly fragile world order. We each have our part to play, to ask questions and seek truth, to look beyond our own immediate need to the needs of others, asking as Jesus does of us, who is my neighbour, and to encourage others, especially the young who are far less likely to vote, not to give in but to play their part to vote.

My prayer is first that in this diocese we will play our part, in our daily conversation, for some of different parties in campaigning itself, and for all of us in our engagement in the debate. That we will make our voice heard, speaking respectfully, and respectfully inviting the voice of others, including those who take a different perspective from ourselves. That we will be able to participate in or even hold hustings to hear from the various candidates.

One small step you can do now is to sign up to Pray your Part – the Church of England’s national resource with daily reflections and the encouragement to pray.

My prayer beyond these next weeks is that the government we elect may be one that reflects the vales of God’s Kingdom, in which God’s will is done on earth as in heaven and in which each will have their daily bread.

It is a big prayer, but it begins with being involved.

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