Safety

And so 2015 has dawned. If anything, it feels quite a lot like 2014 so far, only a mite less hopeful. Perhaps that’s my state of mind. Perhaps it’s redolent of a wider cultural malaise. The news provides very little respite. Very few people in the public eye truly appear as if they have the best interests of others at heart, preferring instead point-scoring and sometimes petty, sometimes deadly, squabbling. We all want to feel better than someone else, to feel superior to someone, or some group of people, perhaps a race, an ideology, a creed, that we feel like we can look down upon from our ivory tower. All the while we seek, above all else, I believe, one simple thing in the headlong rush and panic of Western twenty-first century living: we are desperate to be safe.

Recently, it’s dawned on me (ok, I’m a bit slow on the uptake) that the General Election is not too far away. Having discharged my civic duty in telling my Christmas morning congregation to vote for the (present in said congregation) Labour candidate for our constituency, I’ve been stretching my brain and my conscience to see what it is that we look for when choosing which candidate to support and trust. Perhaps it’s the one who promises to work the hardest, to promote economic growth, or equality, or education, or health. Perhaps we seek to support the candidate who appears to live with integrity. I used to vote Liberal Democrat on the basis that it always seemed to me they came the closest to telling the truth. How naïve I was (and probably remain). Perhaps we vote for the candidate or party who promises to boost Britain’s position in Europe or on the World stage. Perhaps it’s the one who will do the most to make the world smaller for us as we come to terms with living in an ever more compact, yet individualized global village. Whatever the reason, I would contend that somewhere, underneath it all, the natural human desire for self-preservation and safety will play a role somewhere.

There’s lots of talk about tough choices, hard work, hard working families, real people, continuing on a journey. It’s all there. The language is of a firm hand, of power and authority being exerted and maintained, even extended. Which party, which local politicians, which national leader, do we trust? I am more and more convinced, and equally more and more concerned that there is a deep-seated societal fear at play in the early part of 2015. We are a scared people. Attacked from without and within, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We long for the justice and the peace which was promised to us through the death of Jesus Christ on a hill in Palestine, and rubber-stamped in his miraculous resurrection and in the sending of his spirit to be our guide and our companion at Pentecost. The trouble is that we are seeking the security and the safety we need, most often, not from him, but from politicians and political parties and systems which are as weak and fallible as any of the rest of us. When you come to vote in May, don’t place too heavy a burden of expectation or responsibility for yours, your family’s or your community’s safety on the shoulders of one person. Instead, trust God, the only one who can truly give us the safety we crave in the deepest parts of our being, whose perfect love casts out all fear. Most of all pray, earnestly pray, that those elected to serve and lead us might, in turn, look to God, and the example of Jesus Christ’s life of sacrificial service as the model for how they take the next steps in the history of our great nation. The perfect love of Jesus casts out all fear. Might we be brave in 2015.

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