Minister’s Letter – February 2020

 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2nd Corinthians 5 NIVUK)

 I write this the day before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union.

I have no intention of exploring the rights or wrongs of this, or rehearsing the many tired arguments for remaining or leaving. I will, however, make what I hope is a fairly balanced observation: neither side has conducted itself with much decorum or grace as we have edged closer to the date of our exit.

I have been particularly troubled by the recent attempts at grandstanding. On the one hand, we have promises of Brexit parties in Parliament Square, with people encouraged to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”, thus ensuring the famous clocktower chimes at the moment of the UK’s departure. On the other hand, we have devolved institutions debating and voting to continue to fly the EU flag outside their building after 31st January. I think it is a serious understatement to say that these attitudes or approaches are unhelpful, but I dare not say any more than that.

We seem to find ourselves in a time of binaries: if you are not for, then you must be against. We have gradually slipped to a point where debate simply consists of shouting louder, rather than attempting to reason with or understand another’s perspective. Nuance in discussion has been lost somewhere along the way.

The Church has much to say into this context, and I am gratified to see and hear Church leaders beginning to speak of healing and reconciliation. This month, I throw my two pence’s worth into that discussion.

The above verses, written by the Apostle Paul, are ones I return to often, to remind myself that God is able to do immeasurably more than we can think or imagine. We were separated from God because we had rejected Him and sinned against Him; yet, because of His great love for us, He came as Jesus Christ, died taking our sins away, and rose again, promising new life to all who believe in Him. This He did, that He might reconcile us to Himself, and we might enjoy a restored relationship with Him.

Sometimes, we might feel that reconciliation with those who think or feel differently from us is impossible. To that, I say: if God can reconcile us across the gulf of sin to Himself, then He can certainly reconcile us to one another!

May you be reconciled, and be a reconciler.