Let me begin with a statement of the obvious. We’re all different. Just take a look around, but we not only look different, we think differently too. This difference has consequences because no one sees the world quite like we do.
And so it’s inevitable as we go through life especially when we are sure about we believe and feel we are right that we shall sometimes disagree with people. In other words we argue.
We argue about little things, like leaving the top of the toothpaste, or socks not being unravelled before they’re put in the wash basket or Vimto Cordial not tasting like it used to.
We sometimes even argue with ourselves and whilst looking in the mirror give ourselves a good talking to.
We argue about big things too, like politics and religion, though we’re probably a bit more reluctant to make our views known mindful of the consequences.
So for example, here amongst us are Conservatives and Labour, Liberal Democrats, there may be UKIP members and for all I know members of the Monster Raving Looney Party. And yet here we are.
We’ve learned to navigate this difference. We live with it. At our best we may even celebrate it.
The last few months have been tumultuous for our nation and the world. Our differences have been pushed to the limit. These are strange times we are living in, some might even think of the election of Donald Trump as a ‘dreadful portents’ that we heard described in our Gospel.
Whatever we think if we are to reimagine the future of our nation and our world, then we must continue on that well-worn path of being able to argue well and live creatively with difference.
On Remembrance Sunday, in part at least we think of what happens when arguments cannot be lived with.
We think of those times when arguments have gone beyond words. When evil has had to be confronted. Remembering with ‘thanksgiving and sorrow those whose lives, in world wars and conflicts past and present, have been given and taken away.’
And as we all know the evil of war remains. In Iraq. In Syria. In other places too. In these conflicts difference cannot seem to be reconciled, listening and learning is drowned out by shouting and shooting. The arguing, which in some way defines what it is to be human, overflows into fighting and war.
In these and so many other conflicts we mar God’s image in us. But not all arguments are bad.
Jesus argued. He was not really meek and mild and all things to all people. Rather he was often a pain in the neck who challenged people deeply. Jesus turned tables over, both metaphorically and physically.
His arguing though, often with those in power, spoke to the deepest longings of the human heart. For though he knew we’re all different, he knew too, that fundamentally, beneath all the posturing, the huffing and puffing we all seek the same things.
We long for love, friendship, welcome, acceptance, mercy, forgiveness, hope and perhaps most important for today peace. These are at the very heart of the good news of Jesus Christ and need to be heard afresh by every generation.
These are words that unite rather than divide and as his followers today we’re challenged to take them off the page and live them and so in some small way anticipate the Kingdom of which Jesus often spoke.
That means being determined to keep trying to argue well and hold what differences we have creatively. We are all different and thank God we are, for if we weren’t then life would be rather dull. And because we’re different we argue. We argue about little things. We argue about big things.
However on this Remembrance Sunday we come together as one, to renew our commitment to seek ‘all that makes for peace and builds up our common life’, as a familiar prayer puts it.
Faced with the evil of the world we can sometimes feel powerless. We cannot do much about Syria or Iraq but we can in our lives, in our arguments and disagreements strive to live a different way.
So my friends, if we are to be that for which we often pray; a people who seek peace and are agents of reconciliation in a divided world. Whilst we’ll always argue but let’s strive to argue well and by so doing play our little part in building a world in which all have a valued place, where none are left behind and where all can live in peace.