During the next four months we’re going to be inundated with literature form the various political parties. Each one will be seeking to grab our attention and hopefully our vote. Knowing who to vote for is never easy. Knowing who to believe and trust is almost impossible. The thing is, too much attention will centre around the economy. I know the economy is important - it drives so many aspects of our lives, however I also think we need to be asking the bigger question. What is the purpose of economy? This of course was the title of a report published by the church of Scotland in 2012. In this report, " The Purpose of Economy" we were invited to consider the importance of “wellbeing” it is not enough to simply have an economy that is primed to make profit at any cost. We also require to have a just and equitable society and that means we need to think more about what it means to be part of a virtuous economy. I long for the day when children like this little boy I met in October 2014 in Tanzania has a proper home and a future to look forward to.
In other words we require leadership in every sector, from government, to eduction, to industry, including the world of economics to begin to develop strategies of wealth creation that seek to bring about a more equal and just society. No doubt this is an aspiration that no one will contradict and indeed some may argue that has been their intention all along. But in reality too many people feel that they have become ponds in a game in which the rich get richer and the poor find themselves struggling with all the additional stresses of life, so often induced by poverty. We need to become the change makers in today's world. I think its not enough for us to live through change. i think we need to live for change.
Oxfam International has released a new report called, “Working for the Few,” It is a report we should all be aware of, especially as we move toward a general election. The statistics highlight the continuing plight of the poor and what it calls “growing tide of inequality.”
Here are some of the bullet points in the report worth reflecting upon;
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.
- The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.
- The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.
- Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years (this includes all of us who live in the UK).
- The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
- In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.
During the month of January and February in a series of sermons I’m going to be tackling the topic “ Living Through Change”. It’s a topic that is never outdated but one which we have to continually address. Coping with change is never easy yet it seems to me that many of the stories Jesus told were all about engaging with a new world order. The thing is that it is often the poor who have to cope with the changing patterns of economic life. Many of these changes I believe could be managed in an alternative way.
So, while the politicians produce their manifestos I’m going be taking a look at the “Jesus Manifesto” in my sermon this week. Jesus was clear about his vision and purpose. He had come to bring change into the world and at the heart of that change was the change to the human heart. Check out Sunday morning’s sermon when it’s posted on St Andrew’s Bo’ness website on Monday 12 January. you could if you wished join us on the live stream on Sunday 11th January @ 10.30am