Sunday 10th May 2015
John 15. 9-17
I start this week thinking of a whole range of seemingly unconnected
topics - Jesus' New Commandment to love one another; The General
Election; Rogation Sunday, the 70th anniversary of VE Day and
Christian Aid week. Not much in common you may think.... but
I think that with a bit of thought we can see how in fact each
is connected to each and a part of the whole.
"See how these Christians
love one another!" - that should be the distinguishing feature
of our faith, if we listened to Christ's commandment. That should
be how other people perceive us....
But looking at our society
- at our country - over the past week; over the past weeks as
we have approached the General Election, I don't think an impartial
observer would have drawn that sort of conclusion, - do you?
That is not to say that I think
all Christians should think the same politically or have cast
their vote the same way. Plainly there can be many shades of
political affiliation within any congregation of believers -
and that is as it should be. Our God is a god who delights in
diversity - not one who hankers after uniformity. We have only
to look around us in the natural world to realise that.
But human beings do not seem
very good a dealing with diversity, do we?
So rather than accept that
we would probably all be better off - in so many ways - if we
encouraged our politicians to listen to each other and accept
that people of all persuasions can have a good idea from time
to time, we persist in colluding with our adversarial brand of
politics. There has to be one winner - and a whole lot of losers
- and such is our lack of love for each other, that party leaders
then feel they must immediately resign. Oh I know that 'laying
down one's career for another' can hardly be compared to those
who - seventy years and more ago - did literally lay down their
lives to protect our democratic freedoms, but it feels somehow
wrong that so much appears to hang on someone's ability to eat
a bacon sandwich in public! But as that noted political commentator,
Jeremy Clarkson, ( Jeremy Clarkson?) apparently commented "Britain
will never elect someone who looks weird!"
And, on the subject of food,
although this world produces more than enough food to feed each
of us to a reasonable level of nutrition - we have the ludicrous
situation that two thirds of the world may go to sleep hungry
tonight, while we - in the prosperous one third, continue to
worry about the epidemic of obesity because we have ready access
to such abundance .... unless you are one of those in our own
country who have become reliant on food-banks of course....
'Give us each day our daily
bread' .... that is the key prayer for this Rogation Sunday
as we ask God to bless our endeavours and our labour. Asking
him for a bountiful crop - for much fruit - for his blessing
But not to worry, we can leave
it to Christian Aid perhaps to salve our consciences and feed
the hungry, rebuild the country torn apart by earthquake or political
upheaval, violence or epidemic....
How can God allow such suffering
in the world? God doesn't . God made provision long ago to alleviate
the suffering in the world that is the inevitable result of the
creative act that pours God's love into the world and sets it
free to develop and respond to its creator. God made human beings
- and he made them in all shapes and sizes. Gave them different
colours and different abilities. Sent some to live in the inhospitable
frozen wastes of the Arctic. Some to live in rain forests and
desert places. Some to live in temperate zones where the earth
was fertile. Some in the valleys and some in the mountains.
And he told us to love each
other. That way no-one need go hungry and the medical and scientific
expertise of one might be shared with the many!
So what happened? What is it
that instead of caring for each other makes us resort to war
and violence? What is it that results in conflicts so cataclysmic
that we feel moved to remember them and honour those who made
such sacrifices, years and years later? What is it that leads
us to demonize others who may vote differently to us?
Organisations such as Christian
Aid show us the best side of ourselves - what we can do when
we work together with each other to try and improve the lives
of other human beings - even though they may live half a world
away. There is love in action if you like!
And Rogation - remembering
our dependence on the natural world and our agricultural heritage
helps us keep a sense of perspective - and reminds us of God's
providence towards us.
Big national events - like
those marking the anniversary of VE Day - can also show us both
the best side of ourselves - the compassionate side that regrets
the sacrifice others were called on to make - and the worst.
Reminding us of what happens when our love fails.
General Elections do not -
on the face of it - seem to have much to speak of us of love
... but maybe as we move forward as a country - wounded and divided
as this united kingdom seems to be at present; maybe we need
to hold our politicians accountable for indeed seeking to govern
one nation - one people.
"you did not choose me
- but I chose you." God is not a democracy. God is not elected
by humanity - but God chooses us to demonstrate his love for
the world. May his spirit of compassion guide and rule all our
hearts - from the highest to the lowest - today and always.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I
have loved you." Amen.