In this still New Year, we are as a nation, in a strange place; The government is in complete disarray, focusing on a few migrants who are desperate enough to make a dangerous channel crossing, whilst it is estimated that 4,750 people sleep on our streets on a typical night (From Shelter on 30 Dec); fracking has just caused another earthquake (From 38 Degrees 27 Dec).
The NHS is falling apart from ineffective and overstaffed management; 132 young black boys were killed on the streets of London in 2018; Overruns on Crossrail; ‘austerity is over’ we are told yet services continue to be cut. Universal Credit and PFI continues to be supported by the government in spite of clear evidence that neither is able to perform the tasks that are intended.
But it’s not just this government because previous governments have been equally out of touch with reality!
Let’s not begin to look at the wider picture. Eleven MILLION people under threat of death in the Yemen. An American President who has become a laughing stock. Then there’s the rise of extreme right wing elements across Europe.
I am reminded of some words that our previous Abp of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams uttered in 2011. “Politicians, bankers and newspaper editors should be legally required to spend a couple of hours every year working with the poor and needy to remind them of the purpose of their power and wealth.
He concluded, "It might do two things: remind our leaders of what the needs really are at grassroots level, so that those needs can never again be just remote statistics, and reminding the rest of us what politics and government are really for. Power exists, in the church or the state or anywhere else, so that ordinary people may be treasured and looked after, especially those who don't have the education and resources to look after themselves."
You might think that all these thing are remote to us yet I live in a lovely, small, gated community, here in Marylebone, that is beset by anti-social behaviour perpetrated by young, IC6 males who have no purpose in life, and the influx of drug dealers who operate blatantly, unchecked by the police, because of ‘lack of resources’.
What is our church doing, what is our view? Or have we hoisted the drawbridge and occupied ourselves with weighty matters of who can fall in love with whom or 25 years on still whinge about the ordination of women? What the hell would Jesus Say?
What Jesus has already said was simple! “You must be born again!” OK, I know we don’t use that sort of language in our tradition, but perhaps it’s about time we did. We need a new perspective on injustice, conflict, poverty, loneliness and poor education.
We need to born again by God’s Holy Spirit, blown apart and have a new heart implanted within us. We need to get up off our behinds and become soldiers of Christ, active in the fight against all that is wrong in our world.
We all have voices, we can all write to our councillors or our MP and hold them to account. We can join our local Residents Association or volunteer to assist with a charity.
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel.” The Gospel of love, joy and peace and may we, together, experience that love, joy and peace in 2019.
Our celebration of the Incarnation was good. Numbers were good, though I realise that the timing of the day itself influences the numbers. One of the highlights must surely be the Nine Lessons & carols. The choir, under the direction of Julian and the organ playing of Peter, were superb. Midnight Mass was certainly my favourite!
It has been a pleasure to welcome Fr Simon Cuff into our midst as an Associate Priest. Fr Simon is a Tutor and Lecturer in Theology at St Mellitus College, here in London, having previously served at Christ the Saviour in Ealing. We are hopeful to commence a series of study groups shortly and I hope that those who perhaps would not otherwise attend such an event will support this initiative.
Sadly we must report that little progress has been made concerning the spending of the legacy. It appears that the Diocesan Advisory Committee are not too keen on the ideas we have put forward for various reasons not altogether clear to me.
We go into 2019 hopeful and trusting God to lead us. My best wishes to you and your loved ones for the New Year!