I write this e-bulletin with a very, very, heavy heart. The death of Jo Cox MP was an appalling and tragic event. It is an attack on democracy and an attack on every person in this country. It has been suggested that the news has been cynically manipulated by the Remain camp to bolster it’s vote. That I fear, is to cynically avoid some of the recent comments published by Mr Farage and his supporters. There are no winners or losers in this debate, just a dead mother, a grieving husband and two young children. That we have come to this. David Adamson preached eloquently on Sunday about community and the responsibilities incumbent upon all of us. However we vote on Thursday, who will step up on Friday morning to manage people’s expectations, more importantly, who will manage the anger this debate has generated?
God help us all.
On Thursday of this week, those of us who are registered to do so will be entitled to vote in the referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the European Union. Whether or not we believe that a referendum is the most appropriate way to reach this decision, we have been given the opportunity to take part in a historic decision. To vote is a civic duty, an act of commitment to the work of democracy as it has developed over many generations in this country. The right to vote has been hard won and not something granted to many people in the world today.
As Christians, we are called to be Christ-centred, which means being outward focused. This means taking our civic responsibilities seriously and playing our part in building community by using our vote. We each have to decide what sort of country we wish to live in, and how we should foster interdependence and work together for peace and justice between nations.
Unfortunately we have not been helped in reaching a decision on which way to vote by some of the exaggerated threats, inappropriate language and vitriolic publicity we have been offered by a minority of those involved on both sides of the debate. This has tended to overshadow the fact that there are reasonable arguments and people of goodwill on both sides. Many people have therefore found it very difficult to weigh up the arguments and reach a firm conclusion; we each have to do so in our own way. The Church is not offering advice on which way we should vote, although some members of clergy have declared how they plan to vote.
Whatever the outcome of the referendum, and it might be a close call, I hope the result will be accepted graciously and with respect for the majority view. In the meantime it is vital that, as the body of Christ in this part of Chiswick, we model a lifestyle of love and reconciliation, and continue to share the good news of Jesus Christ with all people.