Election Thoughts

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

As Jane and I returned from the polling station to elect our County Council representatives, the postman was delivering our polling cards for the General Election which is to be held on 8th June. These were followed by some further post – a ‘Pastoral Letter’ from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York with some ‘guiding principles’ as we approach this somewhat unexpected opportunity to vote once again for a new government.

Should you wish to read the full contents of the letter, it is available on both the Church of England and the Diocese of Newcastle websites. For those who don’t ‘do’ technology, there is a copy on display at the back of St. Michael’s and I would commend it to you.

In a nutshell, the archbishops remind us that we should set aside all apathy and cynicism and ensure that the Christian virtues of love, trust and hope guide and judge our actions and the actions of those who are elected. They then go on to suggest that cohesion, courage and stability are required from those elected if we are to face successfully all the challenges that lie ahead.

Irrespective of your party allegiances – or who, ultimately, our elected representatives are, the guidance given by the archbishops is very worthy of consideration as election day draws near. And, of course, it goes without saying that we should set the whole activity within the context of prayer for all who are putting themselves forward as candidates and for those who will take on the huge responsibility of being MPs.

All of this set my brain into action on the whole subject of being public representatives and decision makers – and it didn’t take me long to think that all of us who call ourselves Christians (and, particularly, those who form part of a worshipping community) are all, whether we realise it or not, public representatives of Christ – and that each of our actions is being closely monitored.

Never doubt that, as card-carrying Christians, we are being watched from those on the outside: often purely out of interest to see how we conduct our day to day lives – but also, on occasion, to see if we trip ourselves up or do not quite model the lifestyle of some pre-conceived notion of what is acceptable.

So, as we go about our daily living, I ask myself, and each of you:

Have we set aside apathy and cynicism?

Are we ensuring that love, trust and hope are central to our lives and all that we do?

Are cohesion, courage and stability our ‘watchwords’ as we approach the challenges (both small and great) of our times?

Above all else, is calling upon God in prayer – and listening carefully for his guidance – a natural and regular part of who we are?

It has been said that countries end up with the government they deserve. Perhaps all of us would benefit from answering the four questions posed above before we place our X on our voting papers on 8th June.

With every blessing,

Paul.

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