Norwich vicar Revd Philip Young's message for the new year is a call to action for leaders to start helping the poor and vulnerable rather than protecting the rich and powerful.
Right now we are in desperate need of some good news. The global economic outlook is gloomy. Millions of ordinary citizens are feeling depressed because of rising prices, stagnant wages and the threat of rising unemployment. The only people relatively unaffected are the 1% who are disproportionately rich, but even they must be worried by an uncertain future and the fear that the whole financial system may come crashing down.
The problem is that our political leaders cannot offer us any good news about the future. All they can say is that there will be hard times ahead and that it could get a lot worse before it gets better. Any hope for the poor and marginalised will have to be postponed until the economy picks up again. And it always seems to be the poor or disabled who have to wait and suffer most while the rich and powerful are protected.
It seems that we are barking up the wrong tree and that as long as we look to economics to save us we will be depressed and without hope. Just as the Jews felt in need of a Saviour long ago, we too long for a message of good news.
Could it be that the good news of Jesus’ coming is just as relevant today as it ever was? The message of Jesus is a radical one and is one that we all need to hear afresh today.
Jesus shows us a new way of leadership, which is very relevant to our present problems and we need to challenge our leaders to change their hearts and their ways.
Jesus shows a bias towards the poor and we need to challenge our leaders to show compassion and love towards those in poverty. Jesus went out of his way to spend time and energy with those who were marginalised. He loved them. We need to challenge our politicians to talk about love and inclusion and to act for the good of all citizens and especially of those who are in need.
We need to get them to talk about making our societies more equal and to be actively redistributing wealth.
The leadership that Jesus shows us is highly relevant to what people are yearning for today. There is a demand that the 1% will stop lording it over the 99%. We don’t want a rich and powerful elite to mess the world up for the rest of us.
We are wishing for leaders who serve the majority of us. We are wishing our public servants, our leaders, to serve the needs of the common good and the needs of the whole of our big society and our beautiful planet.
Jesus gives us a wonderful example of the Master washing the feet of his followers. We want leaders who serve the needs of all of us, and not just those who look after a powerful elite.
Jesus’ central teaching is to turn away from the darkness and evil that is within us and to love one another. He is the Light of the world.
Let us challenge our leaders to start talking about how to create a more loving, caring and inclusive society. How to turn away from war and conflict, and to build a more peaceful and just world.
If we all strived for this then that would be good news and right now we are in desperate need of some.