National malaise

"Where there is no vision the people perish" Proverbs 29.18


Given the noisy nature of society today, with people mouthing off about everything through the seemingly limitless avenues of social media, I am puzzled by the lack of confidence which pervades our life together in Scotland and in the UK. While our smaller neighbours around the North Sea in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway get on with their lives, making laws and cutting trade deals, the UK agonises over limiting the damage of Brexit and Scotland baulks at the prospect of independence, despite the wealth of our natural resources and, more importantly, the resourcefulness of our people.


What is all this politics doing in a (parish) minister's blog? As a revered former minister of Portree (James Matheson) used to say: "Remove politics from the Bible and there's not much left!" Despite the embargo on politics (and religion) in polite conversation, you cannot get away from it because of its impact on the everyday lives of real people. And, to bring the other pariah (religion) into the picture, God is sovereign over every aspect of life and so he will not be marginalised, whatever the custodians of decency might decide!


Much is sometimes made about how Scotland was the first nation "covenanted to God" in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Well, that's easy enough to claim but it is debatable how deep that covenanting went and it is also true that any claim to the moral high ground is undermined by the cultural prejudice that was rife within Scotland at the time and the moral outrage of slavery that was being indulged in by Scots internationally. However, the idea surely has some merit: of a national vision that reaches to the very heights of what it means to live faithfully? Succumbing to our economic insecurity and the bullying of our larger neighbours is scaring us, as a society, away from addressing the reforms necessary to create a just society at home, while at the same time preventing us from playing our full part in contributing to a fairer international community.


Just because our home is in heaven and we are but pilgrims on the way, does not mean that we should be indifferent to life on earth. God was concerned enough to send his son, so why shouldn't we share that concern for the life that we know? Indeed we are warned that, when he returns or when he summons us to himself, whichever is first, we shall be called to account for how we trod this earthly dimension of God's creation. And there is a positive side to the situation, which pervades the teaching of Jesus and the activities of the early church. What we are learning and what we are becoming here on earth is preparing us for eternal life in heaven. In other words, everything matters and, because it does, we need vision in order to move forward purposefully...

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