LETTER FROM A MINISTER

 
I suppose I am envious of Scotland. The energy and engagement engendered by the independence election was incredible. As the campaign came to a crescendo, we saw both fervour and deep debate.
 
There are places in the world with no real democracy. I have met people in such situations scared that an opinion might cost their life. Others have fled these places leaving all and risking all for sanctuary in the West. This reminds us that the ability to choose a government is a valuable right.
 
Politicians here have not had the easiest of times in recent years and some of this has no doubt increased disaffection and disengagement with the whole system. This is despite the hard work and integrity that many of our elected representatives bring to their work. Sometimes when I see our relatively low rates of participation in voting it raises concerns that our democracy might be waning. Chief amongst these concerns is the thought that it allows a low quality of policy debate. Some of which can deteriorate into rival slogans proclaiming “we will make you better off” rather than vying for any moral
high ground.
 
Politics I would hope would be about inspiring people to want a fairer world. The Gospel has this moral imperative built in. It constantly reminds us that we need each other and that our happiness is never complete when it has a primarily selfish focus. Indeed I believe that when we look back on our lives, our chief satisfaction will come from making a difference to others rather than just personal material gain.
 
This week I have been reading in the bible the almost comical account of Zacchaeus’s conversion in Luke 19. A wealthy grown man climbing a tree to see Jesus! On meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus has a complete change of heart. His response is both of spontaneous joy and generosity. He gives half his wealth to the poor. This transformation towards caring for others has my vote. I pray for this moral direction in the midst of the run into a general election. I hope for something of the excitement of the Scottish referendum to strike south of the border around an important debate on how to create a fairer Britain.
 
Rev Jack Walker
Newport Pagnell Baptist Church