Today we pray for all in the parish of St Anne, Derby
A vote in our democracy is expressed through making the mark of a cross. This is an important sign. To vote is to exercise an important responsibility. It is not simply a way of pointing to someone else to deal with the issues faced by our society. More properly it marks an identification with that person – offering a sign of being connected with the candidate in a desire to pursue certain policies and values.
For a Christian the cross reminds us of a call to offer our very selves, whatever the cost, for the coming of the Kingdom – that is for the flourishing of others and the upholding of the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Voting, marking ourselves to be part of this political moment, through the sign of the cross, requires our prayerful consideration of how best to seek to be a responsible citizen, making a worthy witness towards the crafting of policies and priorities in our time. To vote is a privilege, an opportunity, a Christian responsibility and a witness. Any who abstain need to ask themselves how they might recognize this calling in other ways.
In the 1740’s while walking in his garden with his Chaplain, the then Bishop of Bristol, Joseph Butler famously remarked, in language characteristic of those times, “might not whole communities be seized with fits of insanity, as well as individuals” Recent remarks by Prince William and Prince Harry have reminded us of the importance of taking seriously the challenges of what we call “mental health” - owning and facing the pressures and confusions that life can bring.
At a time of election, we need to remember that communities need mental wellbeing, as well as individuals, if flourishing is to be attained. Much of the rhetoric of electioneering is so sloganized and personalized that the mental health of our society is not properly addressed.
I hope that in our prayers, our conversations and our participation in the privilege of living in a democracy, each of us can consider the challenge of how best to contribute to the wellbeing of our society through the values, perspectives and attitudes we examine and endorse.
Jesus chose to summarise His whole Gospel, especially in the Lord’s Prayer, with the word “Kingdom”: a deeply and provocatively political image. Kingdoms need citizens to fulfill their proper purposes. Christians have an important opportunity in our General Election to contribute towards the coming of such blessings “on earth as it is in heaven”
The key is the sign of the cross.