Just before we left Spain on Friday the result was in. It was always going to be a close result. I have made no secret of which was I voted – not because it was the right way to vote – and knew many (maybe more) who were voting out. So first, a big respect to those of you who voted by conviction ‘out’. I am aware that it was possible to vote ‘out’ for selfish, xenophobic reasons but that not every ‘out’ vote was for those reasons. One of the challenges with respect to voting, which can be increased on a simple in / out referendum such as we have just had, is that all the issues are subsumed under that binary.
Normally we have to acknowledge that our vote is not the right one. We can and should make the one we consider is the most redemptive one. The one that can help facilitate the best future for society, and making that choice is not an easy one. My view of what is redemptive and the best future might well not align with someone else’s call on that.
Today Spain goes to the election box again and hopefully before we go to bed tonight we will have some idea of where that result is going to land. We cannot vote in a national Spanish election but if we could we would put our cross in the box we think is the most redemptive one. Challenging… some of those in that party were in their youth members of the communist party, and the party has formed an alliance with another party (IU) that was a catch-me-all party for the left, so had pulled in what was the communist party of Spain.
Politics, and in particular, political parties are never going to bring in the kingdom of God. We might never be able to cast the right vote, but we can always think redemptively. The jury is out on the Brexit from a redemptive point of view – and it would also be out should the vote had gone the other way. What remains (no pun intended) is the positioning of the body of Christ within the UK in relation to Europe, and the response to the Gospel mandate of openness to the alien, orphan and widow.
If the Brexit marks the end of an era for wider European co-operation under the EU umbrella that will be sad, unless in the messy aftermath it provokes a new way of co-operating together and serving one another. It will probably be difficult for that new way to surface in the immediate future, but the trans-national, alien present body of Christ holds the keys to that. It will have to begin, as always, with a response to neighbours, and the embrace too of the ‘other’ that is close to hand.
Now, of course, back on the table comes the Scottish possibility of a ‘leave / remain’ referendum. Maybe Scotland needs to lay down her rights to serve in the current instability? However, the parallels are remarkable.
In all of this at a family of God level we have to go to a much higher level. If we bow at the foot of nationalism as our identity, or in signing up to make our nation great again then I do not think we have considered at any depth the new identity that we have in Christ. I would love to see a new style of politics arise, not a putting down of the ‘opposition’ but a journeying together for the common good. A new media that does not shut down the minority voices but speaks from and for the margins.
So still with hope for Europe, still looking to the first century seed in the ground to spring up. If it does we know that there is healing for the nations.