As I write this piece, the Brexit deal vote has gone to Parliament and Theresa May’s deal was rejected overwhelmingly. The country slid further into uncertainty about its future.
At the moment the news is full of difficult issues around the ever-present Brexit debate. People are verbally and physically attacking MPs and each other as they go about their daily lives and business, anger seems all too prevalent in society, and people are asking themselves, ‘What this country coming to? Where is our hope? Where is our peace?
On social media recently, a prayer taken from the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer was being posted widely:
A prayer for the High Court of Parliament to be read during their Session
Most gracious God, we humbly beseech thee, as for this Kingdom in general, so especially for the High Court of Parliament, under our most religious and gracious Queen at this time assembled: That thou wouldest be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations to the advancement of thy glory, the good of thy Church, the safety, honour and welfare of our Sovereign, and her Dominions; that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavours, upon the best and surest foundations, that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety may be established among us for all generations. These and all other necessaries, for them, for us and thy whole Church, we humbly beg in the Name and Mediation of Jesus Christ our most blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.
In these times of uncertainty, ‘peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety’ might seem a long way away, and all around us people are worried and concerned. I don’t know what is going to happen in the next few months in our country. I don’t know if you are a Brexiteer or a Remainer or a ‘I have given up caring-er’. This is not an article to influence you either way, but merely to remind us all that in difficult times we can cling on to the hope we have in Jesus.
Matthew 12 points to a prophetic verse in Isaiah:
‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.’
‘In his name the nations will put their hope.’ At times like these we, as individuals and as a country, have to remember to put our hope in Jesus, the Prince of Peace. I know this isn’t easy, but somehow we have to turn our face away from the scaremongering and towards Jesus. He is ‘the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’, and the one whom we can trust in even the darkest times.
And no matter where in the debate you fall we can all be praying for God’s will to be done and for his peace and reconciliation in a divided nation. In joint statement just before Christmas our bishops said, ‘the bishops of the Church of England pray for national unity – and courage, integrity and clarity for our politicians. It is time to bring grace and generosity back to our national life… There is now an urgent need for the United Kingdom to recover a shared vision and identity to help us find a way through the immediate challenges… we have faith in Christ to show us all the way of hope.’
Let us keep praying and hoping! At times like these the words of Saint Teresa of Ávila seem very apt:
Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Attaineth to all things;
Whom God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.