Elections and Referendums: how do we decide?
With so many opportunities to vote coming up I’ve been thinking about how we decide, not just about voting, but about any major question, questions we often call moral or ethical. Some questions of course are quite simple. When we can clearly see what the result of our decision and action will be the choice may be easy. Many, however, are not like that. Outcomes are usually not predictable, or if they are we may not find them attractive or desirable. Very often there is no ideal choice.
So what kind of approach should a Christian use? The short answer is prayer. That may be all we need to do, but very often prayer is best supported by careful thinking about the situation and the choices we may be able to make. Most Christians would want to see if the Bible can help us. For the complex issues we have to decide upon today we can’t expect scripture to come up with a ready-made answer. From the Old Testament many people would point to the Ten Commandments, but there is also very helpful advice in the books of wisdom such as Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. Clearly in the New Testament we would want to see what Jesus says, starting from loving our neighbour as ourselves. We would want to see how the early church worked on relationships and disputes in the various letters of Paul, Peter, James and John. Bringing these together with our natural sense of what is good we’ll probably have a feel for where we might want to go. We might already have our own aims and objectives clear, but we should also consider what other viewpoints might be possible, particularly the ones we feel we cannot agree with. All of that goes into the mix and some possible choices emerge which we can test further in prayer. A good sign that we have come up with an acceptable answer is that our decision comes with a sense of peace.
But all this is very theoretical. How about a current example, the EU referendum? It’s really complex. No-one can say what the outcome of either alternative will be, certainly not over 5-10 years. To start we have to define the scope of the question for ourselves. Are we voting for what is best for ourselves and our immediate circle? – or for our country, or for Europe as a whole, or for the world as a whole? It’s not often that a decision we make may have world-wide consequences. So here we might add another category which comes from ancient thought and very much from church tradition and teaching. That is, which choice would best promote what can be called the common good? This recognises amongst other things that all are responsible for all, not only as individuals but collectively at every level. It’s much broader than economics. I’ve not heard that approach from either side of the debate. It’s worth considering.
God of truth, give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum with honesty and openness.
Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion and discernment to those who vote, that our nation may
prosper and that with all the peoples of Europe we may work for peace and the common good; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Further notes from Keith ..
Monthly leaflet: Now that the weekly sheet with the readings has settled in there is not so much pressure for a monthly leaflet which gives a lot of times and dates and weekly detail. This gives more space to write about some things at greater length, for example the piece on voting on the front page. I’ll continue do a leaflet at roughly monthly intervals but the frequency will be a bit less precise because of festivals and holidays.
Music: At the end of April we had begun to use two parts of the new service music, ‘Glory to God in the highest’ and ‘Holy, holy, holy’. We’ll be adding ‘Lamb of God’ right at the beginning of May so that we can use the whole set at Pentecost (15th May). The choir have given a good lead and I think everyone is picking the music up easily.
St Peter’s weekend – plans and thoughts for the future.
This is one of the highlights of the year, and always good to have in the middle of summer. We celebrate St Peter’s day this year on 26th June with a Festival Eucharist. We’ll present prizes to the Sunday School and we’re expecting a special spot when St Peter and St Paul, no less, tell us about their thoughts on a special day. We follow the service with lunch.
The day before, Saturday 25th June, 7 pm we are holding another Taizé service with Fraserburgh Churches Together. This is a very special kind of worship, simple and profound so do come and try it.
This weekend is also the time when we have our Gift Day. As you prayerfully consider your response, it’s worth reviewing again what St Peter’s is and what might be needed for the future. Here are some thoughts mostly reminding us of our role as members of this church and of its needs.
- St Peter’s is the most beautiful church in Fraserburgh and within it we offer as full and comprehensive a programme of prayer and worship as we can in the Anglican tradition.
- This includes mid-week services and a regular home discussion group all of which are faithfully supported. There are a number of things we might give attention to, and these include:
- In order for us to develop further we need resources, people and financial.
- We need to give priority to our own pattern of prayer and worship, coming together as often as we can. My main role is to provide opportunity and support for this.
- There are many ways in which people can share in leading worship. Consider joining the reading rota, or helping with serving at the Eucharist, or singing in the choir. We still need a Vestry Secretary.
- Following a meeting in March we have a comprehensive list of work that can be done in building maintenance and also in development so it is more accessible and available for wider use. This now requires following up.
- Everyone can join in doing some of these things. Some may be called to something new. Some activities will need new people. We can all pray for each other and for the future of our church and its community.
Calendar May-June 2016
Sundays at 11 am, Holy Communion.
Wednesdays at 10 am, Holy Communion, 11 am Come and Pray.
Fridays at 6 pm. Evening Prayer
Fridays at 6.30 pm. Choir practice
May 1 Easter 6
May 5 (Thursday) Ascension Day.
Holy Communion 6 pm.
May 8 Sunday after Ascension
6pm Unity Service, Fraserburgh Churches Together
(Old Parish Church)
May 15 Pentecost
May 22 Trinity Sunday (Revd David Thompson)
May 29 Pentecost 2 (Revd David Thompson)
May 31 Home Group (Tuesday, 7 pm)
June 5 Pentecost 3
June12 Pentecost 4
June 19 Pentecost 5
June 25-26 St Peter’s Weekend
Saturday 25 June 7 pm. Taizé Service.
Sunday 26 June 11 am. Sung Eucharist