”I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one." (John 17:20)We've been through several weeks of quite a nasty election campaign. No General Election - but a series of local ones, plus the Assembly elections in London, Wales and Scotland. London has a population bigger than the other two put together of course. And yet, to its credit, it has yet to ask for an independence referendum.
The London campaign is the nasty one I'm thinking of in particular. Some pretty nasty insinuations from Zac Goldsmith about Sadiq Khan. And alongside it - well, it started with a rightish-wing website bringing up some old quotes off the Social Media accounts of some Labour MPs and councillors. All of whom are still suspended from the Labour Party, last time I looked. But the thing was, when these things came to light, we weren't expecting that Ken Livingstone was going to go the full Basil Fawlty on the matter.
But he did.
Sadiq Khan has written a piece in the Observer today that is eminently sensible and comprehensive. He isn't complimentary either about the Conservative campaign, or about the current way the leadership of the Labour party is going. But he writes some cracking stuff:
"I have one burning ambition for London that will guide every decision I make – ensuring that all Londoners can have the same opportunities to get on in life that London gave me. Everyone – regardless of their background, wealth, race, faith, gender, sexual orientation or age – should be able to fulfil their potential and succeed."
"My slogan was “A Mayor for all Londoners”. It should never be about “picking sides”, a “them or us” attitude, or a having a political strategy to target just enough of the population to get over the line. Our aim should be to unite people from all backgrounds as a broad and welcoming tent – not to divide and rule."We are all one humanity. Made of one flesh, descended from the same ultimate parents, sharing our strengths, brilliance and weakness. We have no right to denigrate another because of where they come from, their race or sexual orientation. We are all made in one image - the image of God. We are all one humanity.
Jesus's prayer is for all believers in him. His Church would expand, from that small group in the Upper Room on the day before his execution, to a family that today encompasses people of all ethnic backgrounds, ages, origins and - yes - sexual orientations. We can be the model of what it means to be united. Because we should show that in our Church. We should accept that you don't have to be like me, and I don't have to be like you - because, if we stop bigging ourselves up or trying to hide our own deepest fears that it's actually we that are letting the side down - we can see that we are all made in the image of God, and remade in the image of Christ.
Sadiq Khan's words challenge me - because they're a challenge to the Church. We are not called to deny that Christ is God. But we are called, among those who give themselves his name, to show what it means to be one. To be open. To be loving. To be uniting. To be welcoming.
So we the Church are to share Jesus's glory, and to see it. And to know that others may see it differently, because their perspectives are different. And to open our hearts to others and love, as he loves us. And because his name is known to us, to act like him. That we may all be one.