March 2016

decisionDear Friends

I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough of the EU referendum discussion already and there’s months to go. How on earth are we supposed to make a decision when we aren’t in full possession of all the facts? And how can we find out what the facts are? The majority of politicians and journalists are speaking, or writing, from their firmly held views on the subject.

You listen to one and they say “We will be safer in Europe” and then ten minutes later someone else is interviewed who says “We will be safer outside Europe”. How on earth are we supposed to deal with the passionate beliefs of people on both ‘sides’? Please someone just give us the facts.I suspect however that the confusion lies in the fact that there are advantages and disadvantages to both options. It’s up to us to weigh it up and chose the lesser of the two evils (or the greater of the two benefits).

Such is the nature of decision making that it’s rarely simple. We can so easily be caught in the midst of turmoil, buffeted around in the small boat of our minds. We can write lists – pro and cons – and that’s certainly helpful, but sometimes there’s one thing that is difficult to quantify and that’s the emotional response, the gut feeling. The feeling that we just know (eventually) that something is either right or wrong. Sometimes we just have to take the plunge into unknown territory and hope for the best. I suspect in the end, and having read as much as I can, that this will be the case for me in this referendum.

If we struggle with this sort of decision making I just wonder what Jesus went through on his last journey to Jerusalem. We’re told he ‘set his face to Jerusalem’. I read that as ‘he was determined’ but it wasn’t an easy thing. At any time he could have turned round, gone home to Galilee and picked up his chisel. The list of pros and cons for this journey seem to be overwhelmingly in favour of going home. Why bother? After all he seemed well aware that it wasn’t going to end well. If we look at the people around him, his disciples who were, to say the least, a bit wishy washy at the time, or the Jewish leaders who really didn’t like him at all and were pretty determined to put an end to his shenanigans. It would have been so much easier to have given up – just let them get on with it. People make their own decisions after all.

However, Jesus saw something that the rest of the world couldn’t see and what he saw was potentially so much better for the world. His great love for humanity drove him on. It was never going to be easy but the rewards would be great if he could stay on the path despite everything. His certainty stems from who he was and a life spent in prayer and it was unwavering. Even his tears in the garden of Gethsemane and his plea that this cup may be taken from him didn’t stop him from saying that it had to be. It had to be.

As we travel through Lent we know that, although we go through that difficult week, it all turns out alright in the end. But I feel that it’s well worth trying to put that to one side and travel with him as he struggles. Why bother? I think because the struggle he goes through is also our struggle, granted very exaggerated. We hear the phrase that he ‘died that we might be forgiven’ and wonder what it means. He takes all that we could throw in his direction with him to the cross but then it is transformed because all that pain and struggle heaped on him didn’t win. Forgiveness and a new relationship with God was won on our behalf. That is surely Good News my friends.

I hope to see you over the Easter period and pray that the story of what happened in Palestine so long ago will reach out and touch our hearts anew.

God Bless



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