Weekly Reflection – Look to the future!

05 January 2024

The Restless Republic is the intriguing title of a book that I read over the Christmas holidays. It’s an account of the short period in the middle of the seventeenth century, after the execution of Charles I in 1649, when England became a republic. It turned out to be a very short-lived republic, of course: in 1660 the Merry Monarch Charles II was invited back as king following the death of Oliver Cromwell and the old order was more or less restored.

What struck me particularly as I read Anne Keay’s account of this period was the sheer extent to which so much of what had been familiar to the men and women of the period (and which is familiar to us now) was quickly swept away by the constitutional reforms: the monarchy, the House of Lords, the Church of England with its annual round of saints’ days and festivals – all these disappeared. Even Christmas celebrations were banned by the puritan Christians of Cromwell’s regime.

As the new year progresses, even if most our own constitutional fabric seems comfortingly intact, we are having to become accustomed to the disappearance of much else that is familiar: a decades’ long peace in Europe has been undermined by the attritional Russian invasion of Ukraine; the uneasy status quo in the Middle East has been undermined by the brutal terrorism of Hamas and the consequent warfare in Gaza; nearer to home, trust in our democratic institutions has been undermined by political scandals. At such times I take comfort in some words from the New Testament: For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Whether we believe that such a city is earthly or heavenly, those words can be a spur to all of us to hope, and to strive, for a more peaceful and more just world.

With love and prayers,
Dean Simon

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