view from my pew 5

Dear Internet

Welcome to another of the musings of Mr Grenville-Stubbs. (I don’t think we know each other well enough to be on first-name terms).

I have not written anything for a while because I have been trying to work out which way I will be voting on Thursday in the EU Referendum. I consider it to be more than my democratic right, it is my duty to vote. That is why I have not missed a Church Meeting for the past 37 years. I have witnessed many changes in our church over the years (and have opposed most of them).

Our Minister, Revd Philip Inneck-Tucker keeps telling us that a Church Meeting is not a business meeting, nor is it a democracy, but it is an attempt to discern God’s will together by listening to each other and seeking to see what is right. He says that we are not voting to see who is in the majority but as a way of working out how well we have discerned what God wants.

I think I know what he is saying, but I prefer the cut and thrust of debate, the clinical nature of points of order, and the complexity of proposals and counter-proposals. I vote to express my firmly held opinions and convictions, and no amount of discussion is going to change my mind.

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That is one of the things I have enjoyed in the count down to the EU Referendum in the UK. There has been a lot of heat generated by both sides. But it has also left me feeling a bit confused: one side will make an exaggerated, headline-grabbing claim and then the other side will refute that (but the headline has done its job). Then the other side will do the same.

I had a leaflet arrive through my letterbox this week from the ‘Leave’ campaign that was full of promises about how much better the country will be if we leave the EU, but those promises are surely empty because they are not from any particular party but a coalition of people from across the political landscape. I was completely turned off by some of the racist rhetoric that I have seen, so I will not be voting ‘Leave’ on that basis.

However, I had another leaflet through my letterbox from the ‘Remain’ campaign that was full of warnings about the danger to our economy from a vote to leave, and about how much better off we are at the moment. How can they predict the future like that? And the rhetoric I have heard against those who want to leave has been rather unpleasant too, so I will not be voting ‘Remain’ on that basis.

I told Revd PI-T that I did not know which way to vote and he suggested that I read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and see if that helped me. He said that this was Jesus’ manifesto of what the world could be like if we lived in the way that God intends. That did seem a bit heavy but I did as he suggested and it helped. I decided that I will not be basing my decision on the negativity and lies that have characterised both campaigns. I am going to see if I can find any traces of what Jesus was talking about and vote for whichever one offers us the best opportunity to be more like that.

When I told Revd Phil this he was speechless for the first time since I have known him. The look on his face was priceless!

Yours faithfully

Q.R.Grenville Stubbs

Be blessed, be a blessing (as Nick likes to write)

being vigilant

Last Thursday evening there was a superb prayer vigil at Chelmsford Cathedral organised by a team led by Hannah Bucke, the Churches Together in Essex and East London Ecumenical Officer (when she wears name badges they have to be extra long). It was a well-thought out, brilliantly delivered opportunity to reflect prayerfully on some of the key issues around the EU Referendum (which is on Thursday, in case you hadn’t realised).

Prayer stations were arranged around the Cathedral where we considered issues relating to:

Peace and International Relations,

Sovereignty,

Trade and the Single Market,

Borders,

Environment, and

Agriculture and Food.

In addition, given the shocking news of the murder of Jo Cox, MP, there was also a space for prayers for her family and the opportunity to light a candle.

I was so grateful to the team that put it all together, and for the thoughtful, non-partisan way in which the issues were presented and the helpful references to Bible passages that were relevant to the issues as well.

To give you an idea of the excellence of the event, and perhaps to help you in your praying about how to vote, this is the prayer card we were given:

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I have already voted (postally) as I am away on Thursday this week, but my thinking, praying and deciding was based on the values I wrote about back in April The Hokey Cokey Referendum

Be blessed, be a blessing

An open letter to the UK after the General Election

Dear UK

child drawingFirst of all, thank you  to so many of you for taking part in the General Election. There are many people in the world who would love to have the opportunity to express their views in the way that you have.

To those who will be in government, please remember that what you have been given by the people of this country is a gift – you have been given the opportunity to serve, not to rule.

To those who are disappointed not to be in government, please remember that prophetic voices usually come from the margins.

To those who are rejoicing about the result, please remember that you have won an election, not a war, and those in parliament serve all of their constituents whether or not those people voted for them.

To those who are saddened by the result, please remember that you can still work to try to bring about some of the changes for which you have hoped and voted.

And to all of you, regardless of which political party you voted for, God is for you and would welcome the opportunity for a chat.

Be blessed, be a blessing

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the x factor

Last Thursday I attended a wonderful prayer vigil at Chelmsford Cathedral (thanks to all who clearly worked so hard on it) where we were provided with opportunities to pray about a number of different issues related to the General Election (tomorrow, in case you didn’t know!)*.

Praying for housing and homelessness – the books in both scenarios are ‘Great Expectations’ – lovely touch!

We were also offered the following prayer, which I think sums up my aspirations when I take part in the ‘x factor’ and put my ‘x’ in the box and put my paper with the ‘x’ in the box in the box. How will you be voting?

Lord God,

You are sovereign over governments and nations, you care for each individual, for those who are powerless and for those on the margins.

You created us to live, not in isolation, but in society and in harmony with all creation. So we pray for wisdom and discernment as we prepare to vote. Help us to see the issues that confront us in the light of the values of your Kingdom.

May we vote not in our own interests but in the interests of others; those in our communities, in our nation, across the world and the whole created order.

We pray for all those standing for election, that they may speak and act with honesty and integrity, and we pray that those called upon to serve as MPs may do so in the spirit of servanthood and in the interest of the common good.

We ask that you will enable us to play our part in building a just and peaceful world in which all people and all living things may flourish.

We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*I also had the opportunity to pray for the election on Radio Essex alongside our local Bishops!