The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Vicar's Letter

May 2005

Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

Sometimes a great deal can happen between writing for "Focus" and people reading it. Almost all of the General Election Campaign will take place in that gap, and by the time you read this you will probably have had your fill of electioneering! At least we are into a real Campaign now, after weeks of a phoney campaigning before the Election was actually called.

It seems to me that there are two serious dangers in our over-exposure to election campaigning. One is that we just get sick of the whole process. We know that what we are being told is not "the whole truth", and over the years this has produced an increasingly disenchanted electorate. One of the most worrying political trends of recent years is the decline in the number of people who actually bother to vote. That is very sad. One of our great freedoms is our voice in who governs us, and we must not let the politicians down-value that! To exercise our vote is a basic civic duty.

Do you remember the tears of joy among the black South Africans as they queued to vote for the first time after the apartheid regime collapsed? They remind us what our right to vote really means. Many of us who are old enough to have witnessed the Civil Rights struggle in the USA are saddened to see how quickly the coloured population has become disillusioned with politics, and do not exercise the right which others struggled so hard to win for them. So, please, make sure you vote on May 5.

My second fear is that we succumb to the temptation to cast our vote solely on the basis of self-interest. Much of the political message is "you'll be better off with us in charge", but we all need to think first of what is best for the whole community and for our world. We cannot think of ourselves in isolation: a General Election is about good schools for all not just for my child, good medical facilities for all not just for us, a fair deal for the hard-working and successful and also for the poor, disabled and infirm. Taxation is not just about the disposable money in my own wallet, but about fair access to the good things of life for everyone. And in the "global village" we have to take seriously the effects of our policies on other nations and peoples.

The Church does not align itself with any particular party it is important to stress that but on particular issues it may well feel called to express Christian insights and to raise questions that are not being faced. The Church is also heir to the long Biblical tradition of speaking up for the marginalized and powerless. Please pray that Church leaders will speak boldly, and that we shall all be guided to make a wise and informed decision when we place our cross on the ballot paper on Ascension Day.

God bless us all.
MALCOLM


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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.