Which is easier to say, take up your cross or write down your cross?
This General Election I have been asked more often than in any other by individuals to discuss their dilemma about where to place their mark on the ballot paper. Former certainties about party, policies, priorities, even personalities have dissolved in wider concerns brought about by Brexit and the perceived crumbling of our political system.
I have joined with other bishops in not prescribing that vote but rather outlining principles and values. These include exercising the precious freedom to cast a vote, even in confusion. We are to look for truth, humility, unity, trust, wisdom and reject the language of prejudice.
People of faith have spoken out specifically against religious and racial hatred and also about the importance of the sanctity of life. There are profound concerns about sustainability of the planet. The criminal justice system and its resourcing is in focus tragically. Above all the weakest and most vulnerable are to be supported and offered even handed opportunities to join fully in a prosperous and peaceful society.
However you vote, do so in prayer. Jesus said of Christian discipleship that to lose our life is to save it. His kingdom imperative is that all are loved by God. Human love in response, is self-giving towards God and crucially towards our neighbour. In Advent Christians remember that the Christ born in Bethlehem is the Christ who 'will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done' (Matthew 16:27).
An old family motto says 'Mean well, Speak well, Do well'. Let's expect the same of ourselves and our politicians as we take the cross to the polling booth.