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New Pope

Had you ever heard of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio before he was elected Pope last month? I hadn’t and even now I know very little about him. But the choice of the first pope from outside Europe since 685AD tells us something about our changing world. Christians around the world are accepting leadership from wherever it is found. Western Europe is no longer dominant although the Papal throne is still in Rome. And it is not just spiritual leadership that is now coming from unexpected places.

History shows how countries and empires have reacted to a loss of power at their traditional centre. In the Bible, King Rehoboam of Judah declared war on the ten northern tribes of Israel, when they declared their independence from Judah. How depressingly often has that been the response of a rejected government. Take the former Yugoslavia which has broken into separate states after prolonged conflict and the Kurdish region of Iraq, again after turmoil and bloodshed. Nearly always there has been the same effect as Rehoboam’s war - many dead and a lasting wariness between the resultant states.

I’m sure a pope from South America will not bring about unrest in the church. Personally, I rejoice that a non-European has been elected. However, many of the policies of the European Union and USA do seem be designed primarily to maintain their current influence and power. There is a better way. Jesus showed that at the first Easter. As St. Paul describes the events in his letter to the Philippians, “he (Jesus) did not cling on to the power that was rightfully his, but rather let go of it in humility so that he might serve others.” In that serving he was killed but God raised him from the dead and gave him ultimate power over the entire universe. It is his letting go of his life and subsequent resurrection that we celebrate each Easter, as we did at the end of March.

There is a message in there for us as individuals and nations. Try to cling to power and position and we risk losing it. Freely surrender and we could receive what we would not otherwise achieve. I admire Cardinal Bergoglio for choosing the name Francis - someone who is renowned for living that surrender and service. Let us pray for the new Pope as he takes up office but also pray for ourselves, that we too may serve in whatever way opens up to each of us.

Every blessing in Jesus,



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Rev'd. Simon Gill Telephone: Sudbury 375334

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