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Home Who's who Bishops The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam. Sermons, articles, and speeches Address on BBC Local Radio, June 2021

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Address on BBC Local Radio, June 2021

by Michael Ford last modified 04 Jul, 2021 12:00 PM

Bishop Nicholas addressed the nation on BBC Local Radio, 13th June 2021.

It’s a big few days for politicians with the G7 meeting in Cornwall. We are living in a time of immense change. They need our prayers and we will want to uphold them and support them. 

In the Gospel reading we heard from Mark, the Pharisees and Herodians - religious and political leaders - tried to trap Jesus. They were smarmy. 

“Teacher, we know that you are truthful and do not court anyone’s favour... but teach the way of God...the truth.” Yeah? 

Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

Jesus gave a clever answer: Get a coin. Whose head is on the coin? Caesar’s. Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.

Well people have debated what that means ever since!

To a Jew at the time of Jesus his answer would have begged the question, ‘and you, whose image is on you?’ You are made in the image of God so you should give to God what is God’s. All of us are to give the whole of us. In England the Queen rules in this realm, but under God. 

From King Herod on, earthly rulers have worried about Christianity. That’s why Herod killed the infants under two in Bethlehem and why there have been periods of persecution when those with political power have tried to eliminate or control religion. And there have been times when religion has influenced politics with an account of what it means for us to be people under God.

For the last six years I have been one of the 26 bishops who are members of the House of Lords. We are Lords Spiritual, as distinct from Lords Temporal, the politicians. When Parliament is sitting, one of us leads the prayers at the beginning of the day. Not everyone in Parliament believes in God but the prayers set the tone.

We’re facing a series of crises - the pandemic, economy, environment and climate change. In some ways they have to be dealt with politically each in their own terms but I think Pope Francis got it right in saying they are all part of the same problem. We need to change the way we are living in relation to God, one another and all creation. We can’t go on living as though life is all about me and my worth is about how much I consume. We have got to live more lightly on the earth.

If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us it is that we live together in one world; that no one is safe until everyone is safe.  Under God, everyone matters. All the world’s religious and ethical traditions teach what is known as the Golden Rule: Do to others as you would have them do to you. 

That’s why many Christians have been praying for a global vaccination programme and for the retention of levels of overseas aid that will support climate justice, proper healthcare and education.

When we pray for our politicians, we will pray to support them and challenge them: Lord give us a vision of our world as your love would make it. Amen

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