The Word on the Week

No Thanks

“Nae the noo” or in English “Not for the present!” The Scots have spoken. 0r at least 84% of those eligible have opted to vote and a 55% of voters want to continue the marriage with the rest of the UK.

After all the marriage had weathered many a storm in its 300 plus years of existence. In recent times Prime Minister Cameron wanted a straight YES or NO on the ballot paper. Not much “wiggle room” there! He wanted divorce or stay as you are. But that was at the beginning of the campaign!!

When he saw the blue of the Saltire flags gaining prominence and heard the eloquence of Alex Salmond making a strong case for independence the promises and pledges began to flow. What had been thrown out of court as unworkable, the “devo-max” or maximum amount of devolved government that could be granted short of total independence, began to be talked about.

As the polls massaged public opinion towards a photo finish Westminster caved in and devo-max it would be – only do not leave us! The stark choice of YES or NO on the ballot paper (who wants to be a NO – so negative) had been cleverly tempered in the hustlings by posters proclaiming “No Thanks”. A little politeness never comes amiss when you are getting your cake and eating it!

So the tale has a happy ending. The Scots got their devo-max. The 1.6 million who voted for Independence form a substantial reminder to Westminster to follow through with their pledges and Gordon Brown has promised to ensure that it happens.

Just how contrary this is to the usual behaviour that arises when a little country wants to leave a bigger one and take its assets with it. One group of sinners telling another group of sinners that we want divorce or permanent separation. National pride normally kicks in and the larger country flexes its muscles and the blood and gore that ensues skew relationships for generations.

Of course civic empowerment is seldom exercised with total restraint and we may yet see pockets of unrest. In an imperfect world the full devo-max may never be put in place. But a measure of national unity is possible resulting from Christ’s prayer in St John’s Gospel chapter 17. There he prays that they may be one (verse 11). Who is he speaking about?

They are the people the Father has given to the Son (verse 2), the born-again ones of Chapter 3 and those down through the centuries who have heard the message and believed in Jesus. They are the salt that preserves society from corruption (St Matthew Chapter 5 verse 13). They bring a message of a Saviour who forgives and restores broken relationships making unity between independent people not just possible but actual.

Breaking up is always easier than the hard work of uniting people, who by nature want their own way. But believers having been forgiven much will love much and provide society with the glue that is in for the long haul. And what is true at national level is also true for individual relationships. Jesus ends his prayer with the words of assurance that he (by the power of the Holy Spirit) will be in them (St John Chapter 17 verse 25/6).