Prayer for the general election has been a regular feature of our collective worship for the last month. In the run up we prayed for wisdom and honesty and compassion to guide the hearts of all those standing for election, and all those casting their votes at the ballot box, so that we might protect the vulnerable and safeguard our environment. On Sunday we prayed again for those same values to direct all those now elected to govern us, and ourselves as we hold them to account.
Before we prayed, I shared a few thoughts on the election result, which I have been asked to reproduce here. I am sure my preaching has contained many clues which might help you work out where I am on the political spectrum, but I have generally tried not to be too partisan in leading worship. I feel there is a tension between speaking honestly and even prophetically about where I believe we are as a nation, and holding a space where differences can be held in tension and people can love and respect one another across those differences. If anything, I have erred towards the latter, but Sunday felt different. In the wake of what felt for many like a catastrophic election result, to demur would have felt dishonest.
I thought and prayed much before sharing these thoughts, and I hope they were the right thing to say, but if they were not, I ask for your grace just as I asked for the grace of the congregation on Sunday. Please remember these are my own personal thoughts, and regardless of whether you agree or not, you are welcome in our church and our community.
So here goes...I believe in justice and kindness and fairness because I believe they are values the kingdom of God is built on and they are vital for the overflowing life Jesus promised, but I have seen little to give me faith that our government will prioritise them. That is not a comment on all or individual politicians or voters, as I know that there are varied and complex reasons why people think and act and vote as they do, and I am more than happy to be proven wrong in this instance, but it is a reflection on their recent track record and the impact it has had on the most vulnerable.
I know from my own social media, that many feel a deep sense of anger and fear, and I have certainly shed my own tears, but there have been more hopeful voices too, calling for action not despair. If the government won’t act with justice or kindness or fairness, then it is more important than ever that we do. We take Mary’s song as our hope and our manifesto, bringing down the mighty and rising up the humble, filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty, just as she declared God had done. We act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God. We love our neighbours as ourselves, remembering that even those we most profoundly disagree with are our neighbours. We give and do and speak out as much as we can. We change the world three feet at a time if that is what it takes. That has always been our calling and our commission, but we must seize it now with renewed vigour.