Easter Day might seem like a distant memory now, but Easter is a season and not just a day, and now, in the weeks that follow, we continue to think about Jesus’ Resurrection and what this means for us. Just as those first disciples tried to understand and come to terms with Jesus’ victory over death so we today grapple with the earth shattering, life changing truth that Christ is Risen and Christ is Alive in our lives and in the world.
In common with many of the other denominations, the United Reformed Church is planning to concentrate some of its efforts in helping churches to understand more about developing discipleship amongst its members. A key question in this is how do we live out our Easter faith? What difference does it make to our lives – in the choices we make, the company we keep, in our attitudes and values? What does being a disciple of Jesus mean to you?
Some of these issues will come into sharper focus in the coming weeks as we approach the General Election. As I write this, the manifestos of the various parties have just been launched and campaigning is in full swing. The two major parties are neck and neck in the opinion polls and each is trying its hardest to appeal to those yet undecided voters in the hope that they can win enough seats in the Westminster Parliament to be able to form a majority government – although at present this looks very unlikely and some form of continuing coalition is again on the cards.
So as we approach this hotly contested election – with living standards, the economy, immigration, the future of the NHS and education all key issues, how does what we believe as Christians help us to decide who to vote for? In the past, politicians have been criticised for talking about faith – particularly their own faith, in relation to their politics. ‘Leave religion out of it’ is often the cry. But what does that say about our faith if it remains purely a private matter? How can we live as faithful Christians if our faith does not at least inform our attitudes and actions? Again it comes down to discipleship – as we learn to live and grow in the ways of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. For me issues like selflessness, justice, dignity, respect and inclusion are the things that matter most as I see these are some of the things that Jesus stood for – Kingdom values.
And like Easter, I guess it’s what happens after the election that really matters. Will those who are elected, and the new government that is formed, live up to their promises. Only time will tell and the way things usually work out is that there are many complicated reasons why nothing is as straight forward as it seemed when the parties were trying to woo voters before the election! All we can do is try to continue being that salt and light in the world, working to bring about those Kingdom values, in the power of the Spirit and for the sake of Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord.