Prophecy versus pragmatism; reflections on the humanitarian crisis

I can’t help feeling that what is required above all else, if there is to be any form of resolution to the humanitarian crisis, in Europe is a prophetic response.

Sure, we need politicians to step up to the plate and, we need imaginative policy responses. But, politicians tend to be more interested in pragmatic responses to problems. Politicians always have one big vested interest; winning the next election. Politicians are not big into self-sacrifice; losing is not part of the political game. Very few politicians would ‘go to the cross,’ for the sake of all.

‘Political Pragmatism’ is the doctrine of doing just enough: just enough to be seen to be doing something, but at the least possible cost, economically and electorally.

The problem is that pragmatism never does enough! Pragmatism doesn’t ever get to the stage of ’emptying itself of all but love.’

Yet, Christians, and I dare say people of other faiths, have no option but to think about, and embrace, the entire human family. And, we also have a mandate to irritate our ‘political masters.’ The prophetic voice constantly challenges its audience – and its audience includes self, less we stand in front of our judge charged with hypocrisy – to move from pragmatism to loving embrace.

The prophetic voice reminds us all that there is a greater judgement that we must all face. The prophetic voice looks beyond the five-year parliamentary term and, into eternity.

Prophets understand the long-term perspective. They also willingly render themselves unpopular. Prophets tend to be losers, they are entirely  unelectable  But, there again they are not too bothered about the ballot box!

Last week, on the 29th August,  the Church ‘celebrated’ the Death of John the Baptist, who before his arrest, for saying unpopular and hard-hitting things (prophetic things), was described as a ‘voice crying out in the wilderness. The Old Testament reading for John the Baptist, is from the prophet Malachi:

I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me says the Lord  (Malachi 3, 5).

This morning I am presiding at a ‘Themed Celebration,’ (a votive), taken from At All Times and in All Places. The theme is The Global Community; One World. The readings are Amos 5, 4 &11-15, Psalm 12, 1-7 and Luke 16, 9 -end. Please do read them in your own time! Let me offer you the collect:

Almighty God, you have entrusted this earth to us, and have called us to be citizens of heaven: grant us such shame and repentance for the disorder, injustice and cruelty which are among us, that fleeing to you for pardon and for grace we may henceforth set ourselves to establish that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law, whereof you are the architect and maker; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord……….

If the writer of the collect, Simon Jones, is correct two things are clear: we should be shamed by the refugee crisis, because as Christians it is, if not our fault, then at the very least our problem and, secondly we must continue to work for the establishment , ‘here on earth as in heaven,’ of that city which has justice for its foundation and love for its law, for this hope, aspiration and desire is the very core of the ‘prayer our Savior taught us!’ One way we can do so is to maintain pressure on the political elite reminding that it is only the kingdom values of justice and love that ultimately make all things well.


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