It was the recent debate over the Scottish issue that got me thinking about my identity.
As a child I knew I was part of the great British Empire. Empire Day was a great event in school, but gradually the red has disappeared from much of our globe, and we are grateful that our Queen still heads up a commonwealth. So, are we still Great Britain?
Evidently it wasn’t our empire that gave us the name ‘great,’ but it was to distinguish Britain from Brittany. Well yes, we are greater than this even smaller land.
It was when I was living ‘Down Under,’ that I became aware I had come from UK, the United Kingdom, though I was teased as being a Pommy, (a Prisoner of Old Mother England). But it was returning, after five years in New Guinea, and taking my report around the churches, that I realised that everyone would not be happy to be referred to as English, even if it was our common language.
Since marrying Joel, I am proud to proclaim myself Welsh by marriage, but I have found I belong to a people fiercely determined to preserve their own language, many of whom seem still resentful of the domination and oppression of the English, perhaps not only in centuries past.
Our Queen may not be the only one relieved to know we can still claim to be a United Kingdom, though this may not be an end to the controversy.
English by birth, I know great good came to our land when we shared King James with the Scots. Foremost had to be an end to the skirmishes and fighting over our borders, but what a blessing was the King James Bible. I, for one, still use it to memorise God’s word.
But is it just selfishness, and because of my English background that I have a fear of our unity being destroyed and each of us going our own way? It seems inherent in us all, since the fall, that we want our own way and have this fear of being in subjection to another. Today not many women are willing to promise to obey. And I know a toddler whose first sentence was, ‘Me do it,’ refusing help in putting on her shoes, though she could not manage it, however long she struggled. Another child, born without thumbs, would refuse help when she undoubtedly needed it, insisting she could do it, though her jumbled words came out as, ‘I do it my byself.’
Many of those countries once counted as colonies would never relinquish their independence, though in their hearts knowing there were far less tribal disputes, and a more secure economy when others had authority.
There is a Ghanaian folk tale which seems relevant when there is conflict over this question of unity.
A Father, anxious that his son should not leave the family farm, challenged him to gather a bundle of sticks. Each stick was easily snapped. Now he asked his son to tie them into a bundle. The son found them impossible to break.
I believe there is strength in our remaining as a United Kingdom. But why am I writing about this? I am somewhat ignorant where politics are concerned, and probably there are many sides to this issue, but I find myself challenged by Jesus’ words, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God.’
Christ is our king, and though some of us are called to get involved with politics and issues of present society, above all, we must seek his kingdom and proclaim one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
But we see many divisions, splits and splinter groups, even within the Body of the Christian church. With Paul we say, ‘Is Christ divided?’ Many of us have sought to break away and build our own church, so how can we help to bring us together again?
Paul’s words to the Ephesians are ringing in my ears, to ‘keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.’ (Eph. 4:3) I’m glad God doesn’t ask us to make this unity, just to keep it.
We are commanded to pray for kings, so may I be obedient, praying especially for our Queen, and those in authority in our United Kingdom. May I join with my faithful blog-readers with all my heart to seek first the Kingdom of God, and do my part to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.