So it's a hung parliament! And at the time of writing we have few ideas on how this will develop. But in looking for positives it has to be recognized that chaosis a great engine for change and innovation. Compromise and cooperation are far from simple but provide fertile soil if we put in the hard work to break up long fallow ground.
When the Church lives up to our Lord's radical values and church leaders speak up, there is bound to be a politician who tells the Church to mind its own business. Bishops and archbishops have spoken out against wars, punitive taxes, treatment of the vulnerable and discriminative policies; it's not politics but democracy. Having a view, caring and speaking out are important. But politicians might defend their irritation by pointing to the famous incident in the New Testament when Pharisees came to try and catch Jesus out over the paying of taxes. Is it right to pay taxes to the Roman occupier? Show me a Denarius he said, and duly pointed out Caesar's image; “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's.” There is a separation of Church and state but nonetheless we may, rightly, hold strong views on how states operate.
Lenten fasting was almost over, and now was the time; the Great Easter liturgy was here. Slowly the old king collected his cloak and summoned his servant. Must you go, asked the Queen; it's late and you are frail. Yes! I must go. And so he went, quietly, descending the hill to the monastery on the edge of the marshes. Arriving at a half hour to midnight, slipping in through the monks' door, all was dark but alive.
He crossed the lake to the other side, perhaps seeking rest away from the Jews, but as soon as he landed in that wilderness place, a naked madman ran towards him roaring like Prospero's Caliban. A prisoner to self harm, tormented by demons, dangerous with unnatural strength, the man whom no one could chain or restrain, threw himself at the feet of God. “What do you want with me, Jesus Son of the Most High?” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”
When Jesus said at his trial “for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth”, the worldly and cynical Pilate countered rhetorically “What is truth?” That is all very understandable and perhaps wearily familiar. After all, the Governor of Judea has grave responsibilities and serious ambitions to worry about; above all he must suppress rebellion and raise taxes.
The New Year is the time to reunite ourselves with our spiritual wild side. Singing Hymns Ancient and Modern is something for Sundays but it isn't the same thing. The Creator of the universe has touched us, and he has plans for each of us. We are made with star dust, and the hands that made the stars fashioned the human soul. It is wild and unfathomable and breathtakingly thrilling.
As the sulphurous smoke clears from the American election battlefield, we seem to be waking up in a new world. A reality TV virus has apparently infected the political universe; 'let the hunger games begin!' with, after a pause, that deliciously cynical benediction 'and may the odds be with you'. May the odds be with us all!...
It's good to take stock of life, and isn't the Walking Festival, just finished, a great opportunity to do just that? Walking and travelling together does so many things. We adopt a measured pace fitted to one another and the landscape uniting us with ancient hunter-gatherer pasts. Apologies if you are laughing, but I think it must be true.
Like many others, I hope, I'm enjoying a cargo of ideas and feelings and refreshment having had some holiday. There were lots of things to remember but the common ingredients were enjoying family, staying with old friends, being outdoors a lot, and marvelling at the beauties of the creation around us.