As I write the General Election is over by less than a week and the Prime Minister is in the process of putting together an agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to secure a parliamentary majority going forward. Needless to say the two sides don’t agree on everything and a compromise will have to be found. However in politics as in life you don’t have to agree on everything to work together for the greater good. A good example of this was to be found when our own denomination was formed in 1972. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists didn’t agree entirely on every single issue but there was much more that united than divided them and so they came together in good grace to create the United Reformed Church we know today.
I see a new feature film is about to be released in cinemas later this week (the one in which I am writing) about a period in the life of Winston Churchill. The film, I understand, deals with the events leading up to D-Day, the successful Allied invasion of Normandy launched on 6th June 1944 which resulted in the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi tyranny. The United States, which along with Britain and Canada undertook the freeing of Europe, was not this country’s first ally when they entered the Second World War in December 1941. Churchill detested communism and he had no liking for the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, but when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 Churchill laid aside his differences and prejudices and welcomed Stalin as an ally against the common enemy.
Churchill, when criticised for his haste in embracing Stalin as an ally, responded to his critics in typical witty manner – “If Hitler had invaded Hell, I would have even found a few complimentary words to say about the Devil in the House of Commons.”
The seeking of common ground and the searching for areas that unite rather than divide is at the heart of Christian living. The apostle Paul, whose travels we have been following recently on Sunday evenings, was a Jew to his fingertips and was brought up to have nothing to do with Gentiles in any way, shape or form. But when Paul encountered the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus he soon learned that God’s love was for all humanity and he dedicated the rest of his life to bringing the Good News of God’s love to Jew and Gentile alike. It is God’s love for all his people that is the unifying bond of human kind.
Let us pray for a laying aside of differences in our world and an embracing of our common humanity and brother and sisterhood as we acknowledge the one Father who loves us and who, in Jesus, came to earth not to condemn but to save.
Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:16)