Vicar's Letter October 2018
St. Francis of Assisi
Each month a copy of the Brean and Berrow Parish magazine comes through my door. Last month the Vicar, the Revd. Jonathan Philpott, quoted St Francis. It was a Franciscan quote that I had not heard before.
“May God bless us with just enough foolishness to believe we can make a difference in the world”.
We recall the life and ministry of St Francis in October, and his quote bears pondering upon. Our world and nation at the moment is in a place we have not been before. If you are like me you are confused about ‘hard borders’, ‘soft borders’, Hard Brexit or the Chequers agreement – it is hard to understand the issues, and the issues get muddied in interpretation by sound bite comments on the radio and television. At the licensing of Mary’s brother into his new parish in Bristol the Bishop mentioned the acronym VUCA – I must confess I had not heard of it before.
It is a management idea from the US Army College in the 1980’s and was used to describe the post – Cold War political landscape. VUCA stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” The idea is that life was a lot clearer when we had known political enemies and states during the Cold War. Now terrorism is beyond borders and is VUCA for our political class.
We may feel that VUCA exists in a domestic setting too with failing health and local government cut backs. We may be tempted to ask “What can I do about anything?” and phlegmatically accept the status quo. Well Mrs May, may not call upon me for my opinions and suggestions about the global situation – that much is obvious. However, there is enough need around for us to help, if we have but an iota of Franciscan ‘foolishness’.
St Paul reminds us to be fools for Christ’s sake ( I Corinthians 1). Small and seemingly random acts of kindness will not affect Britain’s decisions of the border between Northern Ireland and Eire. However, for the recipient of our kindness, that kindness could have as great a consequence.
So amid the VUCA landscape of our society let us trust in God and act for God. What an absurd idea – or is it?