In a letter sent recently to all the clergy of the Diocese, Bishop Nick writes ‘we live in challenging times. Uncertainty about the immediate future of our islands certainly dominates … there are no simple solutions but we are called to lead and serve communities of hope in the God for whom past, present and future holds no terrors’. Certain it is that, at the end of this month, whatever the final outcome of the tortuous Brexit negotiations we, in the UK, will be taking a very deep breath as we step into what we hope will be a brave new world.
We know that when the first astronauts – and none could be braver – were launched into the darkness of space, they had faith in the science and technology that would get them to the moon. For some of them, seeing the incredible beauty and fragility of the earth from space gave them a fresh vision which resulted in their making life-long changes. One of the astronauts, Gene Cernan, said ‘it was like gazing back on earth from God’s front porch. Science and technology got me there but they couldn’t explain what I was seeing or feeling, nor could they give me the answers I was looking for. I concluded it didn’t all just happen by accident. There is a Creator. There is a God’.
James Irwin, another astronaut, came home to earth with a fresh vision which changed his life as he became an Evangelical Church minister. ‘It is more significant’ he said ‘that God (as Jesus Christ) walked on earth than that man walked on the moon’. How wise is that Bible Proverb which says, ‘where there is no vision, the people perish’. I wonder, what will be our own experience when we are launched into the dark unknown of post-Brexit? Will it result in a fresh vision of what really matters in human affairs? Will it encourage us to become truly a country which could be described as a community of hope? Will our regained freedoms bring with them a fresh and purer determination on all sides to tackle, for the good of all, the pressing ills that still beset us as a nation?
That, to my mind, sounds more like the vision God has for his world, and for all who are willing to share it there is indeed positive hope for the future. Whichever way things go there will be difficulties to be overcome, reconciliations to be achieved, deep divisions, arising from Brexit arguing, to be healed. On 29 March, like those astronauts, Be Brave! Hold On! Hope On! Trust in God! then we shall find, as Chris Eyes wrote in this magazine last month ‘there is light on the horizon!’.
Canon Kenneth Cook