A message from our Minister, The Rev Dr Neil Dougall - January 2019

The Contest for Power Resumes

201901It was a relief when the Westminster Parliament broke up for Christmas. For weeks we had watched our MPs slugging it out over Brexit. Many times we were promised a definitive moment. It never materialised. Every day someone else suggested a new solution to Brexit. None of them ever gained sufficient support.

When MPs went home for Christmas it was as if someone had hit the pause button. For a couple of weeks nothing could happen. All too soon, January came around. The contest resumed. While some people believe a deal will be done, others are much less confident.

One detail of the Christmas story is often overlooked. It is that Jesus was born into a world where power was contested. In our country there is a contest over what power Brussels should have over us. At Jesus birth, the question was, ‘how can we limit the power that the Roman Emperor has over us?’. Within our parliament different groups battle to control the Brexit debate. At Jesus birth, Herod, the Priests and the Pharisees each had different visions for what Israel’s future should look like. Each believed they were fighting for the soul of their nation.

For many people the Christmas period was a welcome break from the harsh realities of power being contested. It wasn’t like that for Mary, Joseph and Jesus. They were pawns in the power plays of powerful people. Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem because the Emperor had ordered a census. Jesus was born far from home because of a directive from a bureaucracy far away. We discover that the Christmas story takes place in a world just like ours.

In January Christmas decorations come down. We stop singing Christmas carols. For the next ten or eleven months normal life resumes. Come December, we will take Jesus out of the cupboard once again.

Except it doesn’t have to be like. That first Christmas God became a human being. He entered a world where different groups competed with each other. Each wanted to run the show. Each wanted their vision for the future to be embraced. That means that Jesus is even more relevant now that Parliament has resumed than it was last month when it was in recess.

Jesus came to the real world – the world you and I live in – the world where people contest power – the world where people are at logger heads – the world where we go round and round in circles unable to reach agreement.

Jesus came to help us with this world. He came to save us. He came to rescue us from the mess we keep making of things. That is why Jesus is good news not just in December, but all year round.

‘The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood’ (John 1:14 , Message).


God of eternal love and power,
save our Parliamentary Democracy;
Protect our High Court of Parliament and all its members
from partiality and prejudice;
that they may walk the path of kindness, justice and mercy.
Give them wisdom, insight and a concern for the common good.
The weight of their calling is too much to bear in their own strength,
therefore we pray earnestly, Father,
send them help from your Holy Place, and be their tower of strength.
Lord, graciously hear us. Amen.

(Archbishop John Sentanu)

To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.

To see other messages from Neil, click on the appropriate month in the table below.

November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 September 2019 October 2019
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