Morning: today is the day in the church calendar where we celebrate Christ the King! (its also apparently the best day to make Christmas Puddings). I'm off for the first of three services at three different churches in about an hour but I feel that I need to put some thoughts out there about our current state.
I really wish that I had taken a course on late antiquity at university, because I am currently fascinated about era change. Thats what I feel we are on now. I feel that we are in the throes of one of those civilisation shifts that we have read about in the history books (or didn't in my case.. where is that copy of Gibbon). Europe has been in the ascendancy since the mid 1400's I guess.
And now, through ripping ourselves apart in war, this little patch of land (for that is what it is) is running dry of resources and no longer makes anything. Instead we pass money to one another- and thats no future. Our citizens have grown fat on the fruits of two hundred years ago and are now struggling to come to terms with the end of dominance.
The inevitable end has been slightly delayed by benevolent land masses- the US and Russia I guess. But now they have other friends, large resource rich countries that are much more fun to be with than cynical old Europe.
Its easy to read about era change from a distance, but this I think is what it feels like. This sense of economic mess, where some seem determined to ignore the need for change. The increasing sense of individualism (Thatcher won when there are strikes about "my pension" when a quarter of kids grow up in poverty) I'm sure will mark this era shift.
In the midst of it I see signs of hope- perhaps even of the Kingdom. It seems to me that the Kingdom is not a socialist utopia, nor is it the free market (in fact its definitely not that).. Its a place where the human is dignified. Its a place where everyone, no matter what they have, has dignity and promise.
And thats why I think I tentatively applaud the Bishops in stepping out to say no to the ethnic cleansing that benefit reform might unleash in the country. Yes £500 a week is a lot. But someone else made housing that expensive..
The Bishops are right to stand up for those who won't be listened to and will most likely not ever come near our churches. They are right because being poor shouldn't mean that you can be harangued out of certain parts of the country. Growing up in poverty should not consign you to being treated as less than human. Europe has historically vested such a fate on the poor across the world. It has to stop.
On this day of Christ the King, we honour the God who came as King- outrageously riding on a donkey, washing the feet of his friends, stepping in to stop an unjust stoning. As Europe wanes He is still King. He still calls us to dignify all of humanity (and I haven't even gone there in global economic terms)..
Europe is dying: Long live the King!