In these uncertain times, our nation is spending a lot of time attempting to predict what the future might look like, under a new Prime Minister, outside or semi-detached from the European Union. And different folks are attempting to promote their particular vision of what this future might be like. As with any predictions, it’s hard to know with any degree of certainty what might happen.
And yet vision is important. It gives direction, it shapes the way we live in the here and now. The Bible warns that without a vision people perish. So what kind of vision can we put our faith in?
The classic film, Wizard of Oz and its bestselling single, ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow,’ connects strongly with the hope we all have for a better future, a future where all have what they need to live and thrive, where people can know joy and delight…’where lemon drops grow on trees.’ In what seems to me to be a grown-up version of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, John Lennon imagines a future where there is no war, where people live at peace, in contentment. It seems to me that both of these visions are a bit like wish fulfilment, detached from the real world, a world where we all from time to time make poor choices, choices that can damage ourselves and others and the natural world.
In the Bible we find a different vision, a vision of the future that accepts and encompasses all the frailty and brokenness that we find in ourselves, that we see in others and in the natural world and yet a vision that in spite of this seeks the fullness of life that a life lived in relationship with God can bring. The Bible calls it the Kingdom of God, a state of being where in God’s strength, we learn how to live in ways that bring peace and hope and joy into our world, that safeguard and support the most vulnerable, that includes all enabling all to flourish. It’s a vision which is as much about how we live in relationship to the natural world as it is about society of humankind. This is a realistic vision because God knows our capacity to bring pain and suffering to ourselves and others. And yet through God’s forgiveness and in God’s strength, God shows us how to be reconciled with those we have hurt, how to open our lives to God’s love and to be transformed so that we can live in ways that restore and renew the broken places in our lives and in our world.
In the county of Cumbria, Churches across the denominations have attempted to encapsulate that vision in three words, God for all. It communicates our faith in a God who understands and accepts that life is hard, a God who longs to offer us a rich and fulfilled life lived in connection with God and in harmony with our neighbours and the planet we live on. A life that is filled with the joy and peace that comes from knowing we are loved and accepted and cherished by our loving maker. And that vision is realisable in your life now…you don’t need to search for the land which lies over the rainbow.