Bishop Sarah was a special guest on the Mike Hill Sunday programme on 8th September.
Here is her thought for the day address.
Thought for the day
‘Pictures paint a thousand word’ – which image caught you this tumultuous week of our national life? Perhaps none – you may be like the taxi driver who told me he switches off all news as he can’t bear anymore on Brexit. We may be with him on that but then we miss the balancing of the world beyond Brexit, the devastation of the Bahama’s, fires in the Amazon and England thumping Bulgaria.
Pictures paint a thousand words and the image of Jo Johnson, the Prime Ministers brother, getting on his bike, cycling away, and accompanied by the headline, ‘Minister Jo Johnson quits to spend less time with family’ – certainly grabbed me.
Painted the picture of the bitter divisions that that grasp us at this Brexit hour –
brother divided against brother,
leave divided against remain
colleague divided against colleague
our nation caught in upheavals, in the shadow of an election
As a new bishop in the north east people I meet are keen to know how I voted, which part of the divide I stand, where to place me
As a bishop I carry with me my picture that paints a thousand words, speaking of the bishop’s work’s and call – it is my pastoral staff, a shepherd’s staff, literally a long stick with a crook at the end. Mine was given to me when I was made Bishop of Jarrow – Jarrow home of Venerable Bede and the Jarrow Marchers – a picture of my call to serve and care for the people of the north east – people of faith and no faith. It has been with me to Darlington, to Stockton, to Hartlepool, to Easington, to Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle – from the Tyne to the Tees and the Dales to the Sea – it is here today with me in the studio in Middlesbrough. That staff paints the picture of where as a Bishop of the Church, and where every church in all our communities, must stand serving as we do communities of every shape, size and complexion, people on all side of the national Brexit debate.
For etched on that staff is a verse from the Bible that speaks of God’s reconciling love in Jesus, the love that brings us close to God, sorting out the stuff that keeps us from God and brings us close, reconciliation. It is that hard work that Jesus calls us to work for – bringing people close to God, close to each other – builds bridges over divides, that builds up communities not tears down, that blesses not to curse, that makes us get on our bikes to peddles each other, not away – working for the common good.
In the post Brexit era we are journeying to, we need to paint a fresh picture of reconciliation that tells of a thousand way we are drawing our communities, our country, our politics together again and we will need people on all sides of the divides to take up their paintbrush and start painting.