Many of us might have been encouraged to find that the Church of England hit the national headlines on Shrove Tuesday - and not for entirely bad reasons.
The open letter written by the House of Bishops sought to set out some of the key areas for reflection and debate in the run up to the forthcoming election. It certainly set the cat among the pigeons and we had those who said yet again that the Church should stay out of politics.
Now, whilst we might well think that the Church ought not to speak for a particular political party, it is difficult to argue that the Church should remain silent on issues of political debate about which the Gospel seemingly has much to say. Those who serve in the political arena are often people of a deep Christian faith and their decision making is grounded in their own faith journey and their own discipleship. Even those not from a Christian background would probably recognise that the Church is right to have an interest in the areas under debate and consideration.
As we begin together our journey through Lent we find ourselves facing a season of questioning and examination. A time when the Christian tradition teaches and encourages us to reflect, to learn, to listen and to change. To challenge ourselves and one another and to reposition ourselves in the light of God’s love revealed to us in the Gospels.
Such a degree of critical reflection is difficult to achieve without engaging with political questions. For what we decide to do is very deeply determined by who we actually are. Our politics is therefore shaped by our identity as disciples of Jesus Christ.
So as the political debates hot up, let us not be afraid to contribute to the reflections and the thinking and to work together on the proper development and critiquing of ideas. So when the election finally comes we shall be able to make choices that are good for us and good for all people.
The Revd Canon Christopher Burke
Vice Dean and Canon Precentor