Hereford Times Article - 14/11/19
This is my last column for the Hereford Times. As I retire at the end of the month, I want to thank successive editors for the privilege of contributing to the paper every three weeks.
In five years, I reckon I’ve written about 34,000 words. Thank you to those who have read at least some of them and to those who have responded in some way, whether agreeing or disagreeing with what I’ve said. “Disagreeing well” is in rather short supply in this country at the moment. It’s an art that we’d do well to rediscover over the next month.
Clearly when writing for the paper I do so from a particular faith perspective. I’ve tried to strike a balance between on the one hand, not wanting to sell short my conviction of the truth of the Christian faith; and on the other hand, remembering this is not the context to preach a sermon and needs to be accessible to those of any faith or none.
But I do unashamedly want to be an advocate for the Christian faith, for being a follower of Jesus Christ - and indeed for taking his teaching seriously.
I have often quoted the saying that the church is the only organisation for the benefit of those who are not its members. Sadly in the church we forget that much too often, and too easily we become preoccupied with our own internal concerns.
Christians share with many others a commitment to the “Common Good”, a message reinforced often by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his visit here last month. In bible-speak we are to “love our neighbour as ourselves”. The challenge comes when we have to think about who our neighbour is, or who we are to be neighbour to. As I wrote last month, in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, he showed that we are to be neighbours to anyone we encounter, regardless of race, colour or creed.
A General Election reminds us of the “Common Good” being much more than individual acts of kindness, and of how neighbourliness can be reflected in policies for the good of all.
So, as I leave this wonderful city, whose Bishop it has been an amazing privilege to be, I sign off with my very best wishes to all Hereford Times readers and to my successor, Bishop Richard Jackson, who will arrive in the new year.