Advent Fire and the Ballot-Box


The second Sunday of Advent’s Mass readings are anything but cosy. We are confronted with fire — the fire of the prophet Isaiah with his yearning for integrity and justice, and the fire of John the Baptist with his passionate call for repentance and conversion of heart (cf Isaiah 11. 1–10; Matthew 3. 1–12). As the U.K. General Election draws near, it is impossible not to reflect whether/how that fire informs our own decision about voting.

There are those who have told me in no uncertain terms that I should avoid all mention of politics in my blog. If, by that, they mean that I should never voice an opinion with which they disagree, they will be sorely disappointed. I regularly disagree with myself! If, however, they mean that some subjects are not suitable material for reflection, I can only urge them to read the scriptures more thoroughly and consider whether our conduct is meant to be influenced by what we read. For the truth is, the texts put before us today are an unmistakable call to action. They demand a response, just as the person of Jesus Christ demands a response. Are we going to seek justice and integrity or not? Are we going to try to produce good fruit or are we not? When we vote, will we vote in what we think are our own interests or will we heed the warnings of John the Baptist and of the prophet?

This Sunday may be the last day many of us have leisure to think through and pray about the choice we must make on Thursday. For some there is the temptation to opt out of voting, on the grounds that no candidate or party seems to measure up to the situation facing us. While that is understandable it has the effect of placing a heavier burden on those who do vote. What no one can deny is that the outcome of Thursday’s vote is going to have long-lasting consequences.

Fire destroys, but it also cleanses. Perhaps this Sunday we each need to allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn away whatever is selfish or self-serving in ourselves that we may play our part in bringing about the age of peace and goodwill we shall sing about at Christmas. The ballot-box, too, can be a vehicle of grace — if we consent to make it so.


9 thoughts on “Advent Fire and the Ballot-Box”

  1. Reminds me of 1 John 3:16-18 and the clear message that our love of the Lord should drive our action to our neighbour in need. That includes both a cup of water and responding to societal and structural injustice. This isn’t politics it is truth revealed. Thank you

  2. I do think it is harder than ever to decide which party (individual leader?) might do the most good (least harm?). Incredibly difficult to tear my mind away from old loyalties and new anxieties. I pray that people do vote for good – not just their own, and that when the dust settles our country works to be a more united, co-operative nation.

  3. I hope that when we are faced with a decision like this (or similar ones we have in the US) we earnestly pray “God be in my head and in my understanding.”

  4. That is the test for voting, isn’t it…voting for what you believe is best for everyone, as far as possible, even if it means that you will be giving something up along the way.
    Thank you for putting it so clearly – not who to vote for, I mean, but how to make your choice.

  5. Thank You
    It has been difficult here in Scotland for well known reasons . I have been dismayed at the media coverage throughout and hope as you do and pray people will take the personal time to prayerfully reflect on this vital decision .
    I am hearing such a longing for integrity and justice in our communities . Will that be played out at the Ballot Box , has our Christian Voice been loud enough ?
    Jesus came to bring hope to a dark world and while we wait for his return I pray that we and our churches are beacons of light in our communities and our vote reflects that need in our Nation

  6. Fire needed to put out fire. I am incandescent and need to calm down. There is so much at stake for the poor, the needy, in fact all of us.

  7. I think many people will be biting the bullet over this election. Reading comments on twitter almost wrung from the hearts of sound commentators whose political affiliation is well known but who feel compelled to vote for the other side gives a sense of the raw seriousness this time of it all. Praying that we all vote as the Holy Spirit urges us.

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