As I look at the many churches across our Diocese I am struck as to how much change they have witnessed through, in most cases, many centuries. They have seen empires rise and fall, governments come and go, alliances formed and broken. Throughout these years they have stood for the constancy of God’s love and care, a haven for those in needs and the assurance of the future.
Whatever our hopes or fears for the future there can be no escaping the reality that the result the European Referendum has changed the landscape of our nation and indeed our lives. For those of us born after the second world war it is arguably the greatest political change we have witnessed in this country.
The challenge for us now as we seek to move forward, to build the new United Kingdom we have embarked upon outside the European Union, is what kind of a society will that be? It is a challenge far too important to be left simply to our politicians who seem in any case somewhat distracted, it is for us all to determine what will be the values that underpin that re-orientation.
Values, I suggest to which the spires of our churches, with their deep roots in the land might point us, as they point us to Christ, who healed the sick, who made the deaf hear, who cured the lame, and preached good news to the poor, to the marginalised and the outcast.
These are the values that, when we have been at our best, have made us a nation able to engage creatively with the world, to welcome the refugee and value tolerance and an open society in which all may find their place. They are the values that have brought us to account when we have been at our worst when we have sought only for our own interests when we have exploited the poor.
May we find in them again the key to our future and the new kind of society for which it is patently clear so many in our nation seek today.
By the Archdeacon of Cheltenham, the Ven Robert Springett.