We were celebrating the beginnings of the gospel last night, Christmas, the start of God's recreation of the world, the making of all things new.. It's a story about God sending a king who will lift up the poor and needy, turn the elite out of their palaces and bring justice for those at the bottom of the pile (Luke 1, Isaiah 9, 11, Jeremiah 23, etc, etc..)
So when Tory MP Mark Pritchard tweets (as he did
last night): ‘If some parts of the Church of England preached a little
more gospel and a little less politics – perhaps [the] Church would be
in a better place,’ I wonder if he understands either the gospel or politics! When government ministers refuse to meet the Trussell Trust and claim that they are meddling in politics by linking rising demand for foodbanks with benefit changes, I wonder if they understand either the gospel or politics.
Jesus was born in the midst of political struggle as part of that struggle. The maccabean flavoured magificat, a song of liberation and social upheaval, which many churches sing on a regular basis, is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus came to proclaim a kingdom (a political idea if ever there was one) that questions the claims of every other kingdom.
Politicians who claim that the church should stick to the gospel and not talk about the poor or the injustice of systems that keep people poor, clearly have no idea what the gospel is about. As we celebrate the most political festival in the Christian calendar (apart from all the others!), it is the perfect moment for Christians to be talking about the things that matter to God - justice, equality, being practical good news to the poor, and challenging elites and the wealthy to use the resources under their command to work for God's agenda in the world.