Here’s what I’m saying to my congregation this morning after the UK voted to leave the EU …
Whatever your views on the EU – and I know some of you voted ‘leave’ while others voted ‘remain’ – our nation is entering a time of radical political and economic upheaval. It may or may not be the case that in a few years time we’re stronger as a result. In one sense your view on that depends on how you voted. But it also depends on how we’re led over the coming months and how the rest of the EU reacts. What is clear is that we face a time of major turmoil with years of negotiations, replacement legislation, market fluctuations, investment uncertainty.
At the same time, there’s a leadership vacuum in the nation. One main party leader has resigned. The other main party leader may have half his shadow cabinet resigning as we speak. We don’t know who our prime minister will be. And it seem we may have an election before the end of the year. At a moment when we most need good leaders, we have no leaders.
We are also a divided country. The vote was close. Older people to leave; young people voted to remain (and many are now very angry). London voted to remain, the shires to leave. There are calls in Scotland for a second independence referendum and it may chose to leave the UK. The Northern Ireland settlement is under pressure.
The vote is unlikely to affect missionaries to Europe in the short term. But we don’t know what the long-term impact might be.
The Matt cartoon in The Daily Telegraph yesterday showed a newsreader saying, ‘Aliens didn’t land on the earth and Elvis wasn’t found alive, but everything else has changed.’
Fortunately that is exaggeration for comic effect. Some things remain the same. England are still beating Australia at rugby!
But more significantly:
- Jesus is still in heaven on our behalf.
- He still rules his people through his word.
- The gospel is still the good news of forgiveness and reconciliation with God.
- God’s promises are still a sure foundation.
- Christ is still coming again to renew the world.
Here are the words Isaiah said for a time of turmoil in Israel’s history.
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 ‘To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Isaiah 40:6-8, 11
‘All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures for ever’ …
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
he gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Comforted by God’s word, let’s pray for our nation:
- That good leadership might emerge.
- That divisions will be healed.
- That the poor will be protected from the upheaval.
- That missionaries will be able to continue.
- That the gospel will continue to spread.