This Article was first published in the May 2016 edition of Itchen Valley News
I was minding my own business one afternoon, in the room which serves as a study in our cottage, when I received a telephone call. I have learned to be a bit suspicious of calls in the middle of the day in the working week – the very same week I had had a call allegedly from ‘BT technicians’ advising that they were going to cut our telephone off, but were willing to pay £100 compensation, if I would only give them my bank account details….and then another call, clearly from the Philippines, asking me whether I was interested in some facial products from her company ‘based in Switzerland’. My usual approach to these calls is to ask the caller whether they know Jesus (and before you write in, I have already been told that this may not be in the right spirit of evangelism) and, generally, they hang up – although in this latter case when she replied ‘Cheese-us?’ it was me who gave up…
So I am a bit suspicious of calls on my phone number during the day (but please do feel free to call me on 791010 because I will pick up nevertheless) but this time it was a poll about the EU Referendum due in just a few weeks from when you will be reading this article (if you have got this far). Now I should say at the outset that I am completely in agreement with the Archbishop of Canterbury when he says that there is no one Christian answer to how we should make this momentous decision, but I would only ask that you pray about it beforehand, because no-one, except God, can possibly know all the consequences which will flow from one decision or another. All we can know is that whatever the consequences are, for once we cannot blame our politicians as we will have made the decision ourselves, although doubtless some of us will try to blame them!
What interests me though is the idea of ‘Project Fear’. Really there are so many things to worry about at the moment. If its not the economy and whether we keep our jobs or pensions or whether we can afford to get to the end of the month with all the bills we have to pay that we are worrying about, it is worry about whether some mad jihadi is going to try and blow us up the next time we go on holiday or travel on the train. It is very easy for those on both sides of the political argument to use our propensity to imagine the worse in support of their cause. And, of course, newspapers, desperate to boost falling circulations, tend to play upon this. When we add to these general concerns, the challenges which we all face personally: maybe guilt about past decisions that we have taken or actions that we should have taken; maybe our own failing health or that of our close relations and friends; maybe ageing parents or wayward children, then it really is quite a surprise that any of us get out of bed in the morning at all!
What a contrast is the Easter story, which, as I write, is still fresh in my mind. At a time after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ when all the disciples had had their hopes completely dashed, Mary Magdalene rushes to meet them, where they are cowering with fear in a locked upper room. She announces the impossible – she has seen the Lord, risen from the dead! Suddenly everything is different for them, and for us. The Resurrection of Jesus is the turning point in history. From this point on we can know that, if we choose to take up His offer to know Him, we can rest all our guilt about the past and all our fears about the future on His shoulders. We can know that whatever happens on 23rd June, or at any other time, we are safe in His arms. If we do this, our outlook is totally changed, regardless of the circumstances. I call this ‘Project Hope’. Be a part of it!