November brings us to Remembrance, and after 4 years of marking 100 years since the First World War we are now into 80th anniversaries since Second World War. It is a reminder that two major wars were fought within 20 years of each other and that since then, the UK has been involved in a variety of conflicts but none that had the same impact on the whole population. As I write, the political conflicts around Brexit are leading to headlines that draw on those old animosities to argue for particular outcomes – many recall that for a while the UK stood alone. Others would point to the way in which European co-operation has helped to create a peaceful environment – each re-writes history to emphasis their theme.
We live in difficult times, and it may well be that as you read this we are no longer members of the European Union, or perhaps there has been another twist and the uncertainty goes on and history still awaits judgement on the decisions that have brought us to this place. The divisions that have arisen feel dangerous, the othering of those who take a different view, the bullying of those who question, the organised trolling on social media, the role of unelected advisors and those who wait in the wings to profit from every situation.
Within churches we share many differences of opinion, but I hope we do so without resorting to hurtful language. We need to be communities who can bring people together, who can live with difference and continue to follow the way of Jesus. Writing to the Galatians, Paul reminded them that, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” We are called first and foremost to follow Jesus and whilst that does not negate our responsibility to be good citizens of the place we happen to live, it does remind us to look way beyond national allegiance and be loyal citizens of God’s kingdom. When we do so we can remember all victims of war and work to ensure that nations no longer to resort to war to resolve disputes.