Rector's Letter - July 2017

When this is published we may have a clearer sense of the government being formed post the election. I write this just two days after the result so we currently know it is a hung parliament, with some sort of alliance, a ‘confidence and supply’ deal most likely, between the Conservatives and the DUP. But we know that a week is a long-time in politics – haven’t we experienced that this last year? So by the time the July-August edition of the magazine is out, who knows whether in fact it will be a different scenario? We wait and see. Leadership contests, another General Election – these are possible as the situation unfolds.

One of the truest sentences I read about the election was a report which said, ‘The people have spoken – but what actually have they said?’ I think fathoming what is going on for the electorate – whichever way each individual voted – is not a simple question to answer. I think there is a genuine search for stability and security, but where people believe that is to be found appears a confused picture nationally. It is clear that we have a nation pulled in different directions – and yet it is also true that at the heart of most of us is probably a similar desire for stability and peace.

I was fascinated by a programme on television the other day presented by the artist Grayson Perry, in which he examined the process he went through to create one of the centre pieces for his new art exhibition at The Serpentine in London (an exhibition he has gloriously entitled ‘The most popular art exhibition ever!’). The exhibit has been dubbed ‘The Two Brexit Vases’. He invited both Brexiteers and Remainers to submit images and photographs and he used these to paint onto his pots, to create one Brexit vase and one Remain vase. Everyone expected the two vases to look entirely different and flag up the opposites they were supposed to represent. In fact, the vases looked almost identical, and without the labels, one would have been hard pushed to say which was which. We are so much more than labels. And the actual title Perry gives this piece? ‘Matching Pair.’ Perry said that the two pots ending up looking similar was a good result because ‘we all have much more in common than that which separates us.’

I suspect, if we didn’t talk politics, but talked about our values, our desires and longings for this nation and for the world at large, we’d uncover some of that commonality pretty quickly. We might have different ways to get there, but much of what we long for is the same. Focusing on our similarities instead of conflict over differences just might begin to effect some of the change we need in our country and in our communities.

I think there is something of the message of the Kingdom of God in that. And a message not just the world, but the Church too, needs to remember and take to heart. So much in-fighting about our beliefs: if we got on with working together to feed the poor, help the sick, love the loveless, I suspect our different stances on many aspects would not be solved, but would help a new respect to emerge that enables us to live and work together. There is nothing like rolling up our sleeves and working together on what matters to put differences aside and rejoice in what our common humanity has to offer.

With best wishes