Pew news 08th September 2019

Do you have an opinion about the goings on in Westminster this week?  I know that there are a range of strongly held and differing views among us in church on the Brexit issue.  And for others, there will be bafflement or frustration or anxiety. 

As so often, I have been helped by the advice of John Newton, the 18th Century slave trader turned Vicar, the writer of Amazing Grace.  He invented a set of characters, each with a different name and exhibiting a typical weakness that can spoil Christian character.  One of them is Querulus, from the Latin word meaning “quarrelsome”.  Querulus, “Wastes much of his precious time in declaiming against the management of public affairs”.

In Newton’s day, Querulus would have held strong opinions about the disastrous wars with the American colonies and the impact of the French Revolution.  Today he would be vocal on social media about Brexit. Yet, in truth “he has neither access to the springs which move the wheels of government… our national concerns are no more affected by the grumblings of Querulus, than the heavenly bodies are by the disputes of astronomers”.  Yes, we have a vote nowadays so it is good to be aware and take a view.  And some Christians are called to carry the burden of political office.

Yet Querulus is too distracted and partisan to make the only useful contribution he can: “Our Lord’s kingdom is not of this world; and most of his people may do their country more essential service by pleading for it in prayer, than by finding fault with things which they have no power to alter”.  Newton knew that a nation’s security rests upon prayers of its people more than the strength of its navy or economy.

We hold our various views on Brexit, but there is no need to be anxious, agitated or argumentative.  Instead, we must expend our energy seeking his kingdom.  Its throne is neither in London nor Brussels.