Our Assistant Priest Writes
As we go to print, the political parties are in the throes of launching their manifestos ready for the General Election this month. Their offers to us are designed to secure our votes; if they can get them in sufficient quantities they will be elected and the governance of our nation will move forward based on the strategies they have devised.
And, once again, we’re urged to vote, to make sure we play our part in the whole business. And because I don’t want to be Political (as opposed to being ‘political’ with a small ‘p’), I’m not going to offer any other advice on the election than to say that you should vote if you can and to repeat the advice John Wesley said he would give to all who voted:
1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”
But I do think there’s one danger for us, whichever way we vote (or withhold a vote), and that is to think that by doing so we have played our part in the whole process. We elect people to act in our name, to collect and to invest and spend money on our behalf ; to shape our society and culture, to give order to our lives. We give them authority that can compel people to do things they don’t want to do; to commit or withhold resources, even to commit to military action. That is a serious power that we are giving away, and we shouldn’t give our assent to it lightly.
However we vote, we are failing if we think that is the end of it. We are accountable not only for the power we have but the power we give away and it behoves us all to stay in touch with the politicians we elect; whether locally or nationally, whether we elect them to government or to opposition; whether we vote as protest or we vote in earnest contention for a set of proposals or policies. We are to make sure that the power we have given and which they have assumed is being used fairly, for the good of all and in ways that build up and do not bring discredit either to the nation or to the business of governance.
It’s the same with faith; it’s not enough to believe the right things and to ‘top up’ our involvement and connection every so often; we need to stay in touch with the grounding of our belief and to look for the Kingdom of heaven which is both our work and our reward.