Recently, I had the great privilege of showing a couple from Maine, USA around our lovely Parish Church. The gentleman was the great great great …. grandson of the Revd Nicholas Hamilton 1771. He had traced his family tree all the way back to the Revd Hamilton, our former Vicar (not Rector). He felt a great affinity to his Irish roots and to our Parish Church.
This happened in the week that Parliament debated the Brexit Deal proposed by Theresa May and, as I write this letter, the Government’s strategy seems to be uncertain. Who knows what will happen? The kingdoms of this world do at times seem very fragile!
The Book Revelation says with certainty: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15
I’ve been pondering many of the issues that Brexit raises; identity, citizenship, nationality as well as free trade and ease of travel – the last two being the advantages of our EU membership. How things will play out, both in Westminster and Brussels, we will have to wait and see! As Christians where do we take our identity from? St Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21
As a nation, the majority of people who voted in the Brexit referendum, said very clearly, that they no longer wanted to belong to the European Union. As I chatted to our American visitors and listened to the media reports of the fiery debates in parliament, I reflected that “belonging” is something that for many people provokes quite a passion – a tie or relationship is important while for others belonging meets with irrelevance or antipathy. Belonging and Church go together.
To which Church do you belong? This is a question people might be asked on admission to hospital or at a census. Is your sense of belonging to Donaghadee Parish Church slight, distant – simply receiving the magazine and knowing that the Rector is available for baptisms, weddings or funerals? The Collins Dictionary describes ‘belonging’ as “having a secure place”. May this be the experience of many who come to worship each Sunday in our Parish.
We can have a strong or weak notion of our political or national identity – British, Northern Irish or European but the only identity that will endure into eternity is our identity with Jesus Christ. So to whom do you belong? This is probably an even more important question than any asked at a referendum. May our Parish Church, in the midst of a changing world, provide a safe place to find and share faith and to worship a God who loves and cares for us – to whom we know that we belong. Our identity as a church family is in the God who loves us and our union together isn’t a political or social union that will die way. Instead, as the Body of Christ, our identity as citizens of a heavenly kingdom endures into eternity.
At this difficult political time when with Brexit; currency, jobs and identity seem to be uncertain, may our security be in knowing we are loved by God. Please remember our Prime Minister, Government and our own MP Lady Hermon in your prayers.
IAN R GAMBLE