Thought for the Month: September, the psychological new year
With Rev Jordan Ling, of St Aidan's, St John's and St Michael's
DESPITE our new year falling in January I have never been able to shake the feeling that September is the time to start new things; summer is over, the window of activity before the nights draw in is shrinking, lets embrace our burst of new energy and get things done! I imagine for some of us this means we are breathing a sigh of relief, or sorrow, as our children return to school. Perhaps we are waving farewell to our holiday memories and hoping for renewed zeal for our working lives. The most organised among us will of course already be preparing for Christmas, but in the Christian Calendar we have a few other significant events before we reach that celebration.
Looming large over us all is the significant change Brexit could bring. Bristol is a city that voted overall to remain but some reading this will have voted to leave so, however we voted, we wait in uncertainty because, like us, our politicians have been taking things slower over the summer too. The deadline which seems ever so close also feels unprepared for. As a Christian leader the greatest sorrow for me regarding Brexit is the divisions within our communities that the referendum created. It seems to have divided us into ‘camps’ and we seem unable to share love and respect accross divisions of opinion.
In all of the newness and renewed energy September brings I would hope to encourage us to reach out across possible divisions. The bible teaches us to love one another and to do so even more when our differences may potentially divide us. The story of the ‘Good Samaritan’ is one in which someone from one community helps a person in need from another community despite the fact that these two communities were at extreme odds with one another. There is a challenge both for the helper and the one who is helped in this story; to be a helper requires us to live lives open to another’s distress and willing to offer our time and energy to help. To be helped opens up the challenge of being vulnerable enough that others can see our need, being willing to show we are struggling. Bristol has a reputation for being a diverse community and our diversity is one of our strengths. This strength grows as we allow one another to flourish in difference, to love one another as we are rather then assume that to love someone is to love them into agreeing with us. In the coming months as Brexit continues to loom and develop I believe our ability to love in difference is what will aid us in weathering the changes.
As Christians, as human beings capable of great love, we are called to Love our neighbor and at the end of the story of the good Samaritan Jesus asks his listeners “Who was a good neighbor to the man [in need]?” they reply “The one who had mercy on him” Jesus said “go and do likewise”.