So, folks, it’s the open sea.
I grew up facing the open sea, living very close to the beach at Waterloo. As a child I would look towards the horizon, beyond the Bar, suggesting adventure, unknown worlds.
During stormy weather I would follow the ships as they left the safety of the Mersey estuary until their familiar funnels gradually disappeared. They sailed undeterred.
It was Winston Churchill, the very person we go to for quotes at times like this, who said to Charles de Gaulle: “For get this quite clear, every time we have to decide between Europe and the open sea, it is always the open sea we shall choose. Every time I have to decide between you and Roosevelt, I shall always choose Roosevelt.”
So our nation has decided – we’re heading for the open sea.
With more than 30 million people voting, a turnout of nearly 72%, we have voted for Brexit, the most significant decision for our country in my lifetime. And it would seem that there is no going back.
Right at the outset Archbishop Justin made it clear that there was no specific Christian line. In other words a disciple of Jesus could vote either way –and Christians did.
However, there are important principles which are at the heart of the Kingdom of God. And one is that each human is of immeasurable value – after all Jesus died for each single one of us. We are all unique and in God’s sight, of equal worth, of equal high worth.
So the 1% of our fellow citizens who own 21% of total national wealth had just 1% of the votes.
This seems to have been a major factor looking at the referendum returns. As Ed Conway of Sky News wryly observes: “I can’t think of another time in UK history when we voted for an option that everyone in the establishment said was a bad idea.”
It is almost the case (and here I generalise) that the further you move away from the centre of power, so people are more likely to vote for Brexit, despite the economic risks.
As Prof John Curtice points out: “Remain’s defeat seems to have been primarily the product of the decisions made by voters living north of the M4.”
So Sunderland voted to leave the EU by a larger margin than expected, with 61 per cent voting to leave. This is the home to the hugely successful Nissan car factory, the one place you would think most benefits from belonging to the EU.
But no. Even with Nissan writing to its employees to make clear the company would prefer Britain to stay in the EU. People do not like to be pushed around.
Clearly something is afoot, which transcends even this referendum. People don’t like to be taken for granted – – being taken for granted by London, the establishment and above all by a very remote Brussels.
And so we are ready to sail towards the open sea, as the storm clouds gather and the waves begin to rise, to a destination which nobody knows, to a land yet to be explored.
Of course, risk is at the heart of the Christian faith: it is something we are equipped to thrive under. For risk is in the very heart of God himself who at the cross of Jesus risks our rejection. It is Jesus who decides to entrust his Gospel to a group of uncertain and unreliable disciples. He still does.
The issues on our horizon are clearly daunting. If there ever was a time for Christians to step up and think clearly, it’s now.
Not for our national status, nor to simply maintain and protect our own personal comfort and lifestyle. For our country is much more than just an economic unit.
For as disciples of King Jesus, we hold dual citizenship. As the apostle Paul writes “But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! “ (Philippians 3:20)
The reason is that we long for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven And so in his name we love our neighbours whoever they are, we seek their well-being whatever they have done, we work for justice wherever it is needed. Salt and light.
Clearly it is going to be a hugely difficult voyage as we head towards the horizon, we pray for those who sail the ship of state, for right judgement and a steady nerve. Stormy waters are ahead.