Europe – It’s the final countdown (?)

I am confident that I am not the first nor the last to point to the fact that the above power ballad has a link to our current political predicament – even if only in title. However, maybe along with blue passports we could get back hair styles from a bygone era too (I jest).

My affinity to this track takes me back to the early 2000’s when I had not long passed my driving test, petrol was still less than a pound a litre and most cars still had tape decks. I bought Europe’s album at a jumble sale and my friends and I would enjoy listening to these vintage 80’s tunes. The track still brings back some nostalgia, but a lot has changed since I was playing it on my car tape decks: tape decks have been reconciled to history and CDs are certainly heading that way too. We have also seen four new Prime Ministers (and one Deputy) and two referenda.

With its reverb heavy snare drum this song this song may cause you to reminisce too. Even if it doesn’t, the unintentional pairing of band name and song title is hard to ignore in the season that we find ourselves as a nation.

We do seem to be on the final countdown to leaving Europe (the union that is)!  Whatever your feelings have been, are, or will be about this you would be hard pressed to overlook the fact that surrounding the whole issue there are two things that we are confronted by as a nation as we count down: uncertainty and unkindness.

The uncertainty pervades business, families, communities and will no doubt cause a lot of sleepless nights. It will likely be a catalyst for heated arguments across the floor of parliament, the picket line and maybe even the dinner table.

Unkindness is prevalent and pervasive and often passes by un-noticed. Words (in person and online) and actions directed at politicians and those whose views who differ from ours are often in bad taste at best or threatening and intimidating at worst. It saddens me.

As a Christian and a minister I don’t have the answers to the predicament we are in but I watch it carefully with prayerful concern – particularly for those that are overlooked and marginalized in the negotiations and decisions making. I would hazard to say though that the experience of the church throughout the millennia has something to speak into uncertainty and unkindness that we all see.

The church has journeyed, is journeying, and will journey through uncertain times. This has been the case from the get-go as they have found themselves in and out of favour with the powers of the day and have been at the deadly end of heated persecution. Through this, and in spite of it, the church holds onto and proclaims a hope in God and what lies ahead for us. This certainty has held us steady in the face of uncertainty. It holds me steady in the face of uncertainty.

The church has encountered unkindness in various guises over the years. Sadly, too the church’s history is littered with times when our words, views and actions have been unkind. However, there is  something profound in the fact that we, as a community of faith, find a way to live together – despite the different views that we may have. With varied backgrounds, music tastes (!), political views and sometimes very differing opinions we strive for kindness towards one another and our neighbors because of what binds us rather than what separates us.

Perhaps our story/stories can speak into our nations during this ‘final countdown’? I would love to hear your views on this. Why not get in touch?

Stuart Irvin

Parish Minister.