Referendums and The Kingdom

by | Nov 26, 2018

Mark 13:1-8

The destruction of the Temple

When I was 16 year old,I was living in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. A city which sits on the border
between Quebec and Ontario, The largest English speaking province. This was the year that the Quebec held its Referendum on whether, as a majority French speaking province, it should separate from the rest of Canada. I remember the fervour with which the whole country was campaigning. The referendum had the highest voter turnout in Quebec’s history – 93.5% of the electorate turned up. The result was a victory for those who wanted to remain in Canada, by the narrowest of margins, 50.58% said no to separating the country, 49.42% said yes. The leader of the separatist Quebec government promised another referendum in the near future with a different outcome. While there was no separation of Quebec, the divisions of the province (and in turn the country)
were clear.  There have been no further referendum on the matter, the status quo was kept. That said, cities like Montreal, where I was born, were seriously damaged with many companies, fearing political turmoil, moving their headquarters. I remember years later a new general manager of the Ottawa Hospital was appointed to significant backlash, because, as was explained to me – he was a separatist!

Two years on from Brexit we seem to be, as a country, equally divided only now it’s no deal, this deal or the old deal. Politicians are inevitably playing hot potato
and as always whatever the outcome it’s going to be those most disenfranchised, most in need of support,
who will suffer the most. The Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin, wrote a piece in yesterday’s Times about how in today’s society, ‘without a sense of the transcendent, it is hard to look beyond what is in front of our eyes.’ The Bishop addressed this by saying that we should have our eyes on the long view in which the economic and political deals for today are like the shifting sands under which we can see that grace continues to flow out from God into our daily lives in the way we live and love each other.

In today’s Gospel the disciples are impressed by the great stones of the city of Jerusalem. Perhaps like the scene in Gladiator when Russel Crowe first enters Rome and he and the other slaves are amazed by the great coliseum. But of course, Solomon had built the temple to impress. Not unlike the Romans who built Rome. Jesus puts them in their place, effectively telling them not to be too impressed by this technological wonder, which is nothing to the power of the God who created all things – by the time this Gospel is written down on paper even this temple had already been destroyed. The disciples get the wrong end of the stick and think he is talking about the rapture, the end of times, when everything will be accomplished. And Jesus warns them not to be taken in by doomsday predictions – Jesus says: ‘For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines.’ No Jesus wasn’t describing Brexit, but he could have been, in that for some this feels like the end of life as we know it. Whoever is in charge next week, whatever the outcome of a vote in parliament is, whether there is a second referendum or not, whether the end result is your preference or not. There will still be injustice, there will still be poverty, there will still be those who need to know that they are not alone. Remainer and Brexiteer, European, British and everybody else, we must find a way to work together. We must continue to work to make a civil society. We must continue to work to end prejudice and apathy. We must continue to work to bringing about a justice where those who are in need, in this country and abroad, are heard and provided with what they need. We must continue to build up God’s Kingdom on earth.

Jesus frustrated his followers by the lack of interest he had in overthrowing the King or the Roman occupiers.
He was concerned, however, in how people treated one another and most of all how they treated those in need. He was concerned for those who were excluded, who were on the edge and helping those who put themselves before the needs of others to turn away from their idolatry.

While the news has been full of the gossip of who’s in and who’s out of the cabinet and what’s next for Brexit, The UN released a report on poverty in Britain.
It highlighted the disturbing levels of poverty we have in this country and the impact of delays in universal credit payments and particularly the impact on women and children and others who were the most vulnerable.

The good news is that we can make a difference. Church communities across the country have responded to the local problems people face. From foodbanks to holiday food clubs to regular shared meals. From campaigning on houseing to working with partners to provide housing and night shelters.
This year’s Christmas Tree Festival should raise a significant amount of money for charities supporting the homeless and working on social inclusion.
Many of you support charities working to help others here and abroad through donations of time and money.

In this month’s bible study we were reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 3 and it reminded me of a prayer we used to say every week in the Anglican Church in Canada: Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to god from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen.

With God’s power, doing infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, there are no walls, stone or otherwise, which should stop us from transforming this world.

The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams

Weekly Services

Sunday Mornings

8.00am Said Eucharist in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School

Weekday Services

Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Evening Prayer 
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm

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