The 18th September is an important date; it’s Charlotte’s birthday! This year, however, it’s important for another reason; it is the date of the Scottish referendum asking whether or not its people want to become an independent country. As the time approaches the issues surrounding it and their implications for both Scotland and the rest of the UK are being increasingly discussed.
Other issues of sovereignty and power are also in the news at the moment. Today (Thursday 27th February) the German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks to both houses of Parliament. She has just said that she will work with Britain to reform Europe – saying she wants it to remain a “strong voice inside the EU”. Her words have been carefully chosen as she walks a middle way between those demanding that the EU must allow all sorts of concessions for Britain and those that say it should not permit this. Ukraine with its struggles demonstrates similar but higher tensions over whom they want in charge and whose culture they want influencing the way they live, Russia or the West. This year also marks the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War, a sombre occasion as we reflect on the issues leading to and running throughout that dark period of our history, as well as remembering those caught up in it, both in the forces and civilian.
Whether we are interested in politics or not, there is no doubt that matters of power and sovereignty directly affect us and have real and radical influence on society and culture. We might vote in elections or we might not, we might be monarchist or republican in outlook, or we might follow the news with interest or ignore it completely, but regardless our lives are caught up in their exercise.
I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘How God Became King: Getting to the Heart of the Gospels’ by Tom Wright. It makes the claim that the Gospels are primarily about God in Jesus doing just that, becoming King of the World. Read carefully, this is what the Old Testament longs for and points towards. Our salvation is not so much about personal forgiveness, but our being rescued from the powers that govern us and becoming citizen’s of another Kingdom, God’s Kingdom, with Christ on the throne. When we become Christians we vote in a different referendum, saying yes to the Kingship of Jesus in whom God has said yes to us. But we do not escape this world, nor seek to overthrow it. Rather we stay and through love and grace seek to grow this alternative rule in the communities in which we find ourselves.
May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.