David's letter

Dear Friends and Neighbours,

1 Kings 3:1-15 Matthew 22:15-22

As the magazine is published we approach an election. By the time you read, we may have a new government. I have been struggling, as you may be aware, to be positive and constructive about British politics for some time. I find I have to summon up enormous energy to begin to pray for the electorate, the candidates and those who have recently been our leaders. I am at risk of contradicting myself because I am so angry about politics being fuelled by resentment, pushing buttons, signalling, stirring prejudice from left and right alike, that I am becoming resentful. This is the surest sign that I need to pray more. What I must not do is allow my resentment to fuel the contempt for politics and politicians that is so dangerous, violent and despicably cowardly.

On Remembrance Sunday we heard of Solomon’s plea for the gift of wisdom, recognising he was far from perfect, and we imagined the little persecuted Church in Rome to whom Paul wrote with defiant joy (even telling them to pray for the powers that persecuted them) then the crowd around Jesus as he said “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” We imagined the people down the centuries and in World Wars and in recent and current conflicts who have died or been traumatised as Britain and others have sought to assert popular influence over government as a grand universal principle.

We imagined ourselves, approaching election day with the freedom to vote for (and therefore also against) would be leaders and their proposals about how tax should be collected and spent. We imagined all those people in Solomon’s kingdom, in St Paul’s world, in Jesus’ company, and since, who had no such choice turning their judging gaze upon us, the British electorate, who have the freedom to choose, and even the freedom not to bother turning up and then audaciously to moan about the result afterwards. We feel their judgment burning into us exposing complacency and challenging ingratitude.

Even in his clumsy autocracy Solomon managed to show his lack of entitlement by giving thanks in worship, he ensured the servants were fed first, and he delivered justice first for a bereaved single mother working as a prostitute. Whoever we choose, we as electorate need not only to judge them, but to feel judged ourselves as electors, asking: how is the discipline of gratitude manifest in our life? Whose pay and conditions are we most ready to campaign about and to whom are we most concerned justice should swiftly be assured?

So a prayer is beginning to emerge which I share as you work out what yours might be.

Yours ever, still struggling, but praying,

David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God,

daring giver of freedom,

Risky lender of power and authority,

As we approach an election, remind us what the little pencil cross cost.

Send your Holy Spirit to give us patience to listen and to probe.

Help us distinguish between

opinion and prejudice,

resentment and justice,

verbosity and substance,

flattery and hope,

warning and manipulation,

serious commitment and cheap provocation.

On the day of election

let the cross shape we make send a shiver of sacrifice through us;

make the pencil, shaped oddly like a missile, feel weighty as we choose what taxes be spent on;

as the booth shields our decision from prying eyes, deepen our care for those who have cause to fear their government.

After the Election, give us grace to pray for whomsoever we have chosen together.

Humble us not to expect perfection.

Heal our jealousies.

Excite our interest.

Make us grateful neighbours.

Restore our hope,

God, who in Christ bore the cost of being

the risky lender of power and authority;

and daring giver of freedom.

Amen.

 


Printer Printable Version