Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Pressing issues


There’s a story in the Bible of how God brought the Israelites out of the bread-basket of Egypt, after their clamour against the intolerable burden it placed upon them rose to him. But almost immediately the people raised a new complaint, that here in the wilderness they would starve; and were they not better returning to Egypt, where, in exchange for sovereignty, they had ready access to a supply of meat and bread, fresh fruit and salad vegetables.

And so, God sent them the bread of heaven—along with instruction on how to eat. They were to gather only as much as they needed for each day, and, on the eve of the weekly day of rest, enough for that day also.

But some of the people attempted to hoard more than they needed, only to complain that it did not keep. While others failed to gather enough for the Sabbath, and complained at the lack of provision (as if God was now their slave).

We, in the United Kingdom, have voted to leave the European Union. There may be a promised land over the horizon. There will undoubtedly be skirmishes with communities already living among us who hold to a different vision of the future; and exaggerated claims of momentous victories against them. But for now, we are in the in-between. The wilderness of working out, who are we now, freed from the constraints and the advantages of our recent past?

My point is not that Brexit is the will of God, or that Brexit defies the will of God. My point is that addressing the presenting, external issue never deals with the pressing, internal issue. We are never yet satisfied.

Neither Brexit nor overturning Brexit will resolve English woes.

Neither Scottish independence from Westminster nor upholding the Union will address Scotland’s problems.

If there is any hope, it is this: that the God who heard the complaint of the slaves of Egypt, heard the complaint of the former-slaves. That the God who responded, responded again. That this God is the same from everlasting to everlasting, taking advantage of every changing circumstance and change in fortune to be known by us and to instruct us in how to live our freedom, with all its challenges.

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