Leavers and remainers welcome
St John the Baptist Parish Church
The Bishops of the Diocese of Oxford have written to us all at this critical moment in our national life. Their letter included saying that :
As a nation we may be about to exit the European Union and begin a new relationship with our European neighbours and with the world. At the time of writing, the course of events is uncertain – and the prolonged uncertainty is itself challenging. How are we to respond in the coming months as the Church of England across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes?
Six hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Jeremiah wrote to those sent into exile in Babylon. His words resonate powerfully today. We are to seek the welfare of our cities, towns and villages in these difficult months. The word translated welfare here is shalom: peace, well-being and prosperity. These must be our goal.
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
Bible verse is Jeremiah 29.7 (NRSV)
Generally Church of England Bishops have issued a call for respect on all sides amid growing acrimony over the debate on Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. They said:
"As Bishops of the Church of England, we make this statement conscious of the great challenges to our nations and to their leaders. In writing, we affirm our respect for the June 2016 Referendum, and our belief that the result should be honoured.
"In the last few days, the use of language, both in debates and outside Parliament, has been unacceptable.
"We should speak to others with respect. And we should also listen. We should do this especially with the poor, with the marginalised, and with those whose voices are often not heard in our national conversation. We should not denigrate, patronise or ignore the honest views of fellow citizens, but seek to respect their opinions, their participation in society, and their votes.
"The teachings of Jesus Christ call for us to be generous and humble servants; virtues which are for all leaders, whatever their faith.
"We call on politicians to adhere rigorously to the rule of law and on all to respect and uphold the impartiality of the courts and our judiciary.
"Our concern is also for the structure and the constitution of the United Kingdom. To use the words of Jesus, we must renew the structures that enable us to “love one another”. Changes to our principles and values of government, if necessary, should be through careful planning and consultation."
“It is easy to descend into division and abuse – climbing out and finding unity again takes far longer. Further entrenching our divisions, whether from uncertainty or from partisanship, is not worthy of our country nor the leadership we now need. We are a body that understands from our own experience the dangers of division. It is our view and most solemn warning that we must find better ways of acting.”
You can see the text of the Oxford Bishops letter at: www.oxford.anglican.org/brexit. It is worth reading the full text of this longer letter but, in summary, they say there is an important role at this time for practical expressions of love and hope by communities and individuals. They suggest 12 steps we can take. Don’t be limited by this checklist and don’t underestimate what we can achieve together. The steps can be summarised as:
1. Give extra support to the food banks in your area
2. Watch out for the lonely, the anxious and the vulnerable
3. Reach out to EU nationals in your neighbourhood and workplace
4. Make sure people have access to good advice on migration and travel, debt and financial support
5. Remember the needs of our children and young people
6. Support the statutory services
7. Think about the needs of particular groups in your area
8. Work together with other churches, faith communities and charities 9. Invite the community together
10. Watch over other faith and minority ethnic communities
11. Encourage truthful and honest debate
12. Pray in public worship and private prayer.
Our Bishops suggest
A prayer for our times
God of redemption, your challenge is peace. Given not as the world gives it – with limits, conditions and reversibility, but unconditionally – with infinite love.
We pray today for those of us who find ourselves in places we do not want to inhabit – a home or community where we no longer feel welcome; an identity that feels cut off at its roots.
We pray for those of us with feelings we do not know what to do with – loss and grief, fear and anxiety, aggression and vengeance, exclusion and banishment, uncertainty about our future.
Bless us now, whatever we feel and whoever we are. Dwell in our souls deeply.
Give us the courage to tell our stories honestly and openly; the compassion to hear the stories of others with an open heart; the discipline to share what we have; the discernment to advocate for those more vulnerable than we are, and the means to be agents of care and connection, justice and hope to seek out and celebrate the life and joy in our communities, setting a tone in harmony with you.
We ask these things in the name of Jesus and those who came after him, who lived in times of bitter conflict, who were perplexed but not driven to despair, afflicted in every way, but not crushed, persecuted, but not forsaken.
All the time, proclaiming you.
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Find St John the Baptist Parish Church
Waterloo Road, Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7NT
There is ample parking along Waterloo Road, and around the back of the Church on the unmade road Church Street. What 3 words code: https://what3words.com/player.cards.hooks