The Bishop of St Albans New Year Message 2015
As we bid farewell to 2014, we face a new year which is filled with potential and possibilities.
Among the many events that will take place will be the general election on 7th May. Later in 2015 we will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. This was a landmark event which has led to our modern democracy in the Western world.
Nowadays we are all aware of our rights, enshrined in the laws of our land. However, these rights come with responsibilities. How can I contribute to our common life? Am I willing to obey the very laws which guarantee us our freedoms? What sort of society do we want to be?
All over Europe, there is a dissatisfaction with our political systems. We can all see their problems. But, compare our situation with Syria, in the grip of civil war. Or the tragedy which is unfolding as IS kills and rapes everyone in its path. It’s a reminder just how fortunate we are in Britain.
However, democracy is a fragile institution. It will only survive and thrive if we are active citizens and engage in the political process. We have to enter into debates about our future. We have to make a contribution to our local community. We have to talk to politicians and above all, we have to vote in the general election.
For those of us who are Christians it also means praying for our leaders, our nation and committing ourselves to contribute to the common good.
Recent press reports suggest that young people might be crucial to the outcome of the next election. My prayer is that they will also engage in the political debate. We need to help them realize that it is to a large extent up to them what their own political future will be. If you know a young person, encourage them to vote, this year and in every election in the future. If you are a young person, take your own future in your hands. Don’t put it in someone else’s.
But politics can’t solve everything. It’s people who do that. Ordinary people who get stuck into the issues and opportunities of our local communities.
My hope for 2015 is that we will draw on the deep Christian roots of our nation and work together to become a more tolerant and a more generous nation.
+Alan St Albans