So, the election is over and so Jeremy Corbyn is appointed as the new leader of the Labour Party, with 59.5% of the first preference votes. In his acceptance speech he spoke of seeking a more tolerant and inclusive society, of “grotesque levels of inequality” which needs to be sorted: he also spoke of unnecessary poverty and how his election campaign had shows that young Britons weren’t apathetic about politics, but were seeking a cause to rally behind.
Could this be the start of a brave new spring within the Labour party and within politics itself ?
Oh, how much this speaks of the Church today…………….
I find as I talk to various people (and this is as recent as at a funeral I conducted yesterday) that people are not turned off by matters of faith or spirituality, but are hugely turned off by meaningless religion often seen as `the Church`. This morning I went to a local Church of another denomination, and where I was not known, where a coffee morning was taking place. I`d gone to support a friend who was part of an art exhibition which was taking place in the building; my friend wasn`t there at the point when I called in but as the Church was holding its regular coffee morning I thought I`d have a cup of coffee as well. I`m still waiting for any of the regulars to say hello or even speak to me, as they were so caught up in their cosy little club atmosphere and weren’t really concerned about anyone else. Just as the Labour party seems to have spent the last few years more concerned about keeping face and losing its reason for existence, so the Church seems more concerned about looking after itself and its lost sight of the mission of Jesus.
At a local level we`ve lost sight of the need to speak out against the poverty around us, the compassion for refugees, and we`ve bowed down to subservient scraping over looking respectable, maintaining the past, and preserving our buildings regardless of their purpose; in short we`ve become a cosy little club, desperate for new members but only as long as they look like us, act like us, and don`t disturb what we enjoy doing. Within Methodism, we`ve forgotten our past of Wesley reaching out to the miners of Kingswood, of the Toldpuddle martyrs, of protest and social action; instead when we talk about the past so often its through rose-coloured spectacles.
How long Jeremy Corbyn will last I don`t know but I pray that this may genuinely be a turning point in politics and may lead to a fairer, more just, inclusive society but at the same time my prayer is also for the Church that it begins to move once again with the Holy Spirit and becomes that for which Jesus said of Peter “Upon this rock I will build my Church”, not an institution but a community of faith.