Dear sisters and brothers
‘The Miners united, we’ll never be divided!’
So went the chant during the now in/famous event of contemporary British political history.
I recently attended a play at St Oswald’s C of E Primary School, based on the miners’ strike of 1984/85 – and what a superb play it was! But it got me to thinking – which is probably the whole point of it – as to what really unites us, and what really divides us.
As we know, from this fairly recent event in our history, the miners were united, but they were also divided. Many were unfortunately caught up in the crossfire between the Government and the NUM, both determined in their own way to unite the country behind their cause; the resulting action being that their stubbornness and lack of conciliation is still witnessed today in divided communities right across this country’s once proud coalfields.
Even today, nearly 35 years later (yes, it really is that long ago!) divisions within general society are as strong as ever. We have the usual political divide between supporters of the main political parties, but now we have added to that mix Scottish Nationalism and Brexit, divisions that have again affected families and communities here in the UK, and of course the wider EU.
Even in the United States of America there has been a seismic shift in national politics, with real division between Republican and Democrat, white-collar worker and blue-collar worker, those native to America, and those looking for a better life as an immigrant in the land of opportunity. And the Christian Faith is certainly not protected from this division. Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, Baptist, Pentecostalism, Free Church – there are many divisions in how we understand and witness theology and method, with gender difference and same-sex difference being the current hot potato, with, I believe, a lot more heat to come.
But if we take the two commandments of Jesus, to: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’… and…‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ we see that God wants us to be united; to put away the unimportant things of the earth and focus on what is really important – love – love for God, love for our neighbour; unconditional love that transcends politics, faith, race, colour, gender, sexuality.
We don’t always have to agree – it would be very boring if we did – but we must agree to disagree and appreciate another person’s point of view, and especially their right to have it.
I think it would be lovely if one day we – as a human race – could all sing together:
‘God’s people, united, we’ll never be divided!’