So many promises made by so many parties, all seeking to capture our cross on 7th May!
Yet, our nation tends to hear these promises with a certain scepticism if not cynicism because far too often what has been promised has not been delivered. The general apathy towards even voting is surely a direct result of this. The turnout in 2010 only reached 65.1%. No wonder there was a call for a better way of ‘doing politics’ from the Bishops of the Church of England recently:
‘The different parties have failed to offer attractive visions of the kind of society and culture they wish to see, or distinctive goals they might pursue. Instead, we are subjected to sterile arguments about who might manage the existing system best.’ (Who is my Neighbour? Feb 2015)
A radical vision of society and culture is out there of course. It has been documented in ancient texts going back to the 2nd century and makes such audacious promises such as those who mourn being comforted, the meek inheriting the earth, those who hunger and thirst for what is right and just being satisfied, the merciful being shown mercy, the pure in heart glimpsing the Divine, peacemakers being like God and the persecuted tasting heaven. This is a society where everyone is given unique worth and humility is the hallmark of being fully alive.
If this vision is to carry any credibility it has to be one that is proclaimed and lived out by someone who has such integrity that every promise they make turns out to be true. Easter is the time such promises are put under the spotlight. Jesus once made a promise that was like no other anyone has ever made. At the height of his popularity he declared to his 12 closest friends,
“We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be turned over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18; 31-33)
If the stories of the empty tomb are to be believed, and Easter really is about the death AND resurrection of a man who claimed to be God, then we have to ask if all his other promises can be trusted. And if his promises can be trusted, what light does that shed on his vision for human life and how to live it in relationship with other people and the planet?
So in May we will be wondering where to put our cross on the ballot paper. The far bigger question of course is where we are placing the cross in our own lives.