Message from the Deputy Vicar-General
Recently, I watched a video of the ‘Last Night of the Proms;’ the exuberant crescendo of the annual Henry Wood Promenade Concerts. Music lovers from all over the world gather in the Royal Albert Hall in London bringing their national flags which are waved proudly while everyone sings Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem, God Save the Queen and Auld Lang Syne. It seems utterly incongruous that people from Brazil, France, The Netherlands, America and even Ireland should enter so lustily into the singing of songs that extol the greatness, virtue and glory of Britain and her people, yet every year they congregate in huge numbers, not only in the iconic hall but in parks all over the British Isles where the concerts are simul-cast on enormous screens.
It seems that in a gathering of good-natured people, it is okay to be proud of your own country while singing about the greatness of someone else’s. This is in stark contrast to the global political environment, where national self-interest, xenophobia, mindless jingoism and suspicion of the ‘others’ seem to prevail. It is very sad to see such things as the brutal suppression of dissent, the self-centred cornering of the market in pharmaceuticals that may be effective against COVID-19, the bare-faced manipulation of national constitutions in order that despots can circumvent the very principles of democracy that they claim to espouse and the transparently unjust and inhumane concentration of wealth and resources in the hands of the few.
It is into this topsy-turvy and confusing world that disciples of Jesus are called to stand out as bright signs of hope against the background murk.
In our corner of the world and in recent times, those lights have begun to shine, not only more brightly, without reference to denomination or ecclesiology and with unprecedented unity of purpose. Our response to earthquakes, tragic fires, terrorism and now a pandemic is a sign of hope, not only for the church, but for the topsy-turvy world. By God’s grace we are living the kind of lives that say, not only is it okay for me to ‘me,’ it is also okay for me to celebrate and enjoy you being ‘you!’ This isn’t always easy; indeed, it is nothing short of miraculous when it happens. Thankfully we love and serve a God of miracles in whose loving embrace the church can be the real ‘land of hope and glory!’
Ven. Mark Barlow