A recommitment to the common good
A statement from the Joint Public Issues Team in the wake of the referendum on the European Union
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
This week the people of the UK have made the significant decision to leave the European Union. Across our communities, including in churches, some will face this with dismay; others with celebration.
The pattern of voting has revealed differences within the British people that are being interpreted in various ways. Let us not allow these to become the tools of division, but spur us to find the common resolve and respect to overcome them.
Whatever view we might hold about the referendum result, this is a time to recognise that the wellbeing of the UK and its people does not solely depend on its place in the European Union. Fairness and justice for all were never going to be automatic consequences of being inside the EU or leaving it. They will only become realities if as a country and as citizens, we intentionally pursue them both at home and abroad.
Our aims for the kind of society we want to live in remain the same. People disagreed whether the kinds of issues we will continue to face - climate change, peace and security, sustainable agriculture, welfare, trade and the movement of people - would be better dealt with by being in or out. We have voted for out. But the aim of pursuing a just society has not changed. After months of sometimes damaging debate we must recommit ourselves to work together for the common good.
Many of the issues we face cannot be effectively addressed in isolation from our near neighbours or indeed worldwide partners. While the structures may change our work towards justice and peace must continue alongside our European sisters and brothers.
We believe that every human being is made in the image of God. Any narrative that undermines this, or promotes division and discrimination, runs contrary to the values of God’s Kingdom. Our prayer is that we might turn away from the language of fear or self-interest and recommit to this sense of our common humanity.
We now face an inevitable process of change, and with that will come uncertainty. As a people of faith, we can draw strength from recognising that God’s purposes prevail beyond any political alliance or union. As God’s Word expresses the intent that every nation shall be blessed, we have a place within the wider world that includes a responsibility towards those who are the most impoverished and needy.
As the implications of this historic decision continue to emerge, we call upon those who lead us to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly in the ways of God’s Kingdom.
God of every nation and people,
At this historic moment we pray for all who are affected by the decision that we have made.
Whatever differences this has revealed within our own society,
May they not eclipse what we have in common
Where the narratives of political debate have caused harm and division
help us to reclaim the true values of our shared humanity.
Where exaggeration and distortion have generated suspicion and fear
may truth and honesty restore hope and goodness.
We pray for all the nations of Europe
that you will help us to find ways of living and working together
to pursue the mercy and justice that you require.
We recommit ourselves – together – to the values of your eternal Kingdom
and pray that along with all people
we might help your world become more as you intended. AMEN