Over the next two years our focus as a church will be on becoming the community God wants us to be, to reach the community he has given us. However, in the next two weeks there is a different matter that many of us will be considering.
As you know, on the 23rd June there will be a referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. Now, I have no intention of trying to influence which way you vote, but as I listen to the many and varied voices in the media, there is something that I sense is missing from the debate.
Most of the attention has been around the economic implications for us as individuals, and how the decision might affect the number of migrants we see enter our country. Whilst these are real concerns, I would suggest there is a more generous way to approach this question.
As mentioned, we as a church are looking to become the community God wants us to be. Therefore, we might also ask ourselves the question: ‘What kind of global community do we think God wants us to be?’
Eight days after the referendum we will be commemorating the Battle of the Somme with a service of reflection at Christ Church. This battle perhaps epitomizes the horrors of WWI – on the first day alone over 19,000 British troops lost their lives. After the Great War, many thought it could never happen again – of course it did, with a further 60 million killed between 1939 and 1945.
Herein lie the origins of the EU – determined this should never happen again, the coal and steel industries across Europe were integrated so that France and Germany would be unable to re-arm. A search for lasting peace was one of twin pillars in the establishment of the EU.
The other pillar was that of a concern for living and working conditions. Just as the 1951 Treaty of Paris codified the longing for peace, the 1958 Treaty of Rome codified the hope of economic prosperity for all.
A search for peace and economic prosperity for all were founding principles of the EU, however the debate now seems to be more focused around ‘what we can get out of the EU’ rather than the Common Good.
So as we think about which way we might vote, my prayer is that we as a community would look beyond our own immediate interests and instead look to the Common Good. Whether that is for us to remain in Europe or not, God only knows!
A prayer for the EU Referendum
God of justice and truth, we pray for the forthcoming referendum that we may debate the issues with honesty and openness. Give us wisdom to vote wisely that nations may seek justice more than advantage and mercy more than power; that all the peoples of Europe may live in security and peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.