Every year on St David’s Day, the Bishop of St David’s sends a message to members of the Senedd. [For overseas readers: the Senedd is the Welsh Assembly of politicians who make decisions (frequently daft) about matters specific to Wales.] Here, in italics, is the text of the Bishop’s message.
“Like St David, we live in difficult times”.
Too right, particularly in the Church in Wales. As Bishop Joanne will know only too well, out of a population of 2.1 million fewer than 30,000 attend church regularly.
“In Wales, we are facing an uncertain future over which even our politicians in the Senedd and local government have a limited amount of control.”
Perhaps it’s no bad thing the Welsh politicians have limited control. I’m worried about their interference in family life and education. Too often it seems politicians, not teachers, decide what children must learn. Even more worrying, parents find they have little say when they are unhappy about some adverse effect on an individual child. It seems impossible to ‘opt out’ any more.
“As ever, it is the voices of suspicion and bigotry that shout the loudest.”
“At times like these, it is important that we hold onto our core Welsh values of community, common sense and honesty.”
At last, a bishop calling for common sense—a value that I have elevated in frequent years almost into a virtue. Surely honesty should be a core value everywhere and always? Community! That’s the best bit. I sincerely hope the Bishop intends to do everything in her power to rescue the whole community of the Church in Wales from further decline.
“On his death bed, St David called his community to a renewed commitment to “the little things”.
Those words remind me of the poem, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.
Among those ‘little’ things he tells us: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.
Very little things but what a difference if we all lived by them every single day.
“We may not be able to have much control over Westminster politics or the mainstream media but St David reminds us that the control we can exercise over our own words and actions are vital. Whether we are politicians, journalists or members of the public, it is our words and actions that form the Wales of today and tomorrow.”
Only ‘politicians, journalists or members of the public…’ ? What about the words and actions of Church of Wales clergy? Or has the bishop omitted the clergy because she knows so many of them don’t count for much these days.
“On this St David’s day, let us renew our commitment to honesty, kindness and generosity and, at least on this side of Offa’s dyke, nurture communities of welcome and hope.”
+ Joanna Tyddewi
Welcome and hope. Oh, yes, please. Do everything you can, Bishop Joanne, to persuade your fellow bishops, not only in Wales, but throughout the UK, to offer a welcome and give hope to all true Anglicans, even those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Only as I was previewing this blog before posting did I notice something that should have been staring me in the face. This message was to celebrate St David’s Day—St David, our Patron Saint, brought Christianity to Wales. Joanna Pemberthy is his 128th successor. But there is no mention of God, no mention of religion; I suppose I should be glad there is no mention of sex. This could have been written by a worthy social worker or a politician seeking re-election. Just out of interest I checked on the Bishop of Llandaff’s last Christmas message. In over 500 words this was her only sentence with a reference to Christianity. “As Christians recall how God gave His own son, born as a baby and sharing in human experience, we are invited to remember the power of gifts.” I wonder what they’ll find to talk about at Easter? Cadbury’s eggs, perhaps.