As I write this letter in October, I’m aware we are in such an intense time, politically, as has perhaps not been the case for decades. The issue of our connection to the European Union has dominated the headlines for more than three years and, more than headlines, we have seen the representation of the debate cause significant division throughout the country, as well as in communities, in families, and in many friendships. I have wondered on several occasions the role played by the media. It is also noticeable that people have not been talking about the issue recently. Is this simply because it’s been going on for so long, and there’s some exhaustion about the whole affair? Or is it that the issue has been presented in such a divisive way that to express a point of view in any direction is to be saddled with many other connotations? Whatever has happened will be thought about for some time to come. What is important now, as at any stage of human community, is that every person is willing to engage in a meaningful way with another person. And this is irrespective of how one voted or how the lines have later come to be drawn and where we put ourselves – or have been put by others.
It is on this point of being prepared to engage with another person in a meaningful way, which involves being open to another person, that I consider the Christian faith and the Church to have something important to say. It’s one of the essentials. You can’t be ‘in Christ’ if you dislike everyone else. Our following of Christ means we cannot give up on one another. There’s no retreating to a comfortable ‘faith island’. There’s a deep commitment to your fellow human being (and all of creation) entailed in being a Christian. At the heart of this, of course, is the belief in hope and new life, that restoration is possible; that in the encounter of one person meeting another person in fresh dialogue and renewed vision, we see new ground and a seed sown. As the Christian body, we give thanks to God that this is possible, that this is within the capacity of being human, despite the fact that we often look for, and follow, division. So, in this month of November, I pray that we may be open to one another – in our communities, families, and friendships, and be released from past dynamics that have dominated the ‘conversation’, giving a fresh start and renewed hope in our shared future.
With every blessing,