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'FOLLOWING THE REFERENDUM RESULT'

Published: 27 Jun 2016   updated: 07 Jul 2016

An extract from the Dean's sermon Sunday 26 June 2016

I must say something following on from the referendum result of Friday. It was clear on Wednesday that the vote would be close and that whatever the outcome that Great Britain is a deeply divided country. The Observer this morning says "The referendum campaign revealed a deeply divided and broken land, grievously separated by age, income, education, nationality and geography". There are several calls for a need for reconciliation, but they may be a little early- for reconciliation to begin we need to really appreciate the deep divisions within our country - unless we do that any reconciliation will be papering over the cracks, putting a plaster on a septic wound. We must be kind and charitable but these differences are real and painful, and need to be worked through.

It has made me think quite a lot about identity - and what this past week has made me realise afresh is that my fundamental identity is not that I'm English, not that I'm British, not that I'm European - I'm all these things and will remain so. No - my fundamental identity is that of a Christian; I am in Christ - that I am first and foremost a citizen of heaven, and the seal of that in my Baptism is the wellspring for all that I am and do.

In our New Testament reading this morning we heard St Paul say "I regard everything else as loss because of the surpassing knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord" (Philippians 3:8). This was something that St Etheldreda exhibited in her life, which we celebrate today.

The voting patterns among us here may well be representative of the nation as a whole - I don't know. I do know that emotions have been high and that fears and anxieties are considerable for many as unchartered waters are entered into.

My hope and prayer is that as Christians we don't lose sight of where our fundamental identity lies. If we're truly Christian that is not being English, British or European or anything else - those things are secondary to being children of our heavenly Father. Our shared identity as Christians is being in Christ, being citizens of heaven and responding to that vocation. St Paul's favourite image for the Christian community was of a body - it has many parts, each is important and each has a very particular role to play - all are needed to work together, and working together is what we as Christians, and all people of goodwill, will need to do.

Rowan Williams wrote on Friday "The Christian imperative is surely to tackle fears at their root and hold up the model of a truly interdependent world in which the welfare of each is inseparable from the welfare of all, nationally and globally: the model of the Body of Christ".