LETTER FROM A MINISTER
Brexit and Other Stuff
This month will see the Brexit debate really heating up as the ominous date of 29th March looms up when some sort of decision about the UK’s future will have to be made. Now whatever your views are about the politics of it all, and whoever you vote for, I have to say that the Prime Minister could probably do with a good holiday from the steamy and sometimes hot tempered debates in the House of Commons. Perhaps the PM has been handed the almost impossible job of trying to hammer out some sort of Brexit agreement that can satisfy so many divergent views upon the issue – even within each political party.
It reminds me of childhood days when people of different religious denominations rarely worshipped together and treated each other with suspicion like they did in the days of Henry VIII. Even these days there are still those who don’t discuss religion or politics just in case a nasty atmosphere develops as others’ prejudices clash with our own.
However, if we do not calmly and openly discuss these things then we never learn from each other or inch forward as individuals or as a nation. Discussion and debate are how we learn about each other and God. Keeping religion and politics off our discussion and sharing agendas only serves to keep us in a sort of religious and political stone age and binds us only to our own very particular prejudices and view of the world.
Many churches in MK have for years blazed an exciting trail to follow by worshipping and sharing together our involvement in the community. For example, in Newport Pagnell the Christian leaders from the C of E, Methodist, URC, Roman Catholic and Baptist churches meet and pray together every Tuesday morning. We plan joint services and community events together and share the church buildings that we use for these events. Other groups of local churches practise a similar pattern across the UK. This is a long way from the world I knew as a kid when very little was done together by the different churches.
Of course, we all have our differences about the way we do things, but we have learnt from each other over the years and gained some great ideas to initiate in our own particular churches. Recently there was a joint service held at the Baptist church in Newport Pagnell and the congregations from the other churches in town went there for morning worship. Imagine all of the above denominations all in one place worshipping together?!
Indeed, the atmosphere was terrific. The theme of the service was Christian healing and many people, there and then, requested prayers for healing for all sorts of emotional and physical ailments. Members of the different churches prayed for the sick since what mattered was not the church label but the fact that those involved in the healing ministry were believers in the power of God to transform our lives.
So, the message for Lent is to unite around what we all do well together and to learn from those we are more unfamiliar with about new ways of doing things – and accept that sometimes, as individuals and churches – and in our politics - we are not right about everything all of the time. This is the real spirituality behind Lent which stretches us into exciting realms that are just waiting to be discovered.
Revd Nick Evans,
Rector, Newport Pagnell Church of England Benefice