St Mary’s News May 2024

For me, turning 50 was a bit of a milestone
Apart from a few minor issues and a grumbling appendix, I’d essentially got away without too many ailments or need for NHS care up to that point. In the last few months, that’s changed. My dear mother once said ‘when you turn 50, things start dropping off’. Not entirely true and rather dramatic, but there’s something in that. 

I need a procedure on my foot. I’ve been on the waiting list for quite some time and have heard nothing. So, I contacted the consultants secretary. She almost laughed when I told her I’d be waiting a year or so. ‘You’re way down the list, don’t expect to hear anything for at least two years.’

Now, my ailment is painful and annoying, but not life-threatening. Imagine if it was, and I needed urgent care like so many others. From what I gather from friends working in the healthcare sector, this is the new normal. We really are close to the whole system collapsing and losing the hard fought for privilege of free at the point of contact healthcare, as envisioned by Aneurin Bevan. 

It got me thinking about how so many things we take for granted are being pushed to the edge, to the brink of destruction. 

Why are we so determined to destroy our health system along with so many other things we take for granted, like our environment and our way of life? It feels to me like we are sleep walking into a disaster of our own making except, I think we are fully awake, which makes it all the more worrying. 

We can blame it on politicians, those in power, on the system which requires us to grow and expand, swallowing up more and more natural resource. We can blame developing countries, the poor and the powerless. We can always blame asylum seekers who are now going to be flown to a country with one of the worse human rights records in the world, or those who claim benefits, supposedly the lazy. We never seem to blame those who have resource, money, education and influence who could change our country, our world for the better, providing adequate healthcare, libraries, public swimming pools, decent schools which are not falling down and maybe even work on how we feed people properly so they don’t have to live off foodbanks. Do you remember those days?
As all the things which matter to us as a society are pushed to the brink, we must think about how and why this is happening. 

We must examine ourselves and ask, are we part of the problem? 

As a clergyman, some think I’m not supposed to talk about politics. I am to be like Jesus, meek and mild, forgetting that he also rampaged through the temple, throwing tables in the air and shouting. We are to stand up for the poor and needy, speak up for the marginalised and support those on the margins, on the edges. We have so many opportunities to do this, in small and significant ways. At St Mary’s, prayer is where we start, but it must not end there, else we too are like the scribes and the pharisees ‘as tinkling cymbals or a clashing gong’, all mouth and no action. 

Whilst we hope for better days we also pray for our communities and society. We turn to Christ who was champion to the poor and the voice of consciousness to the powerful. We need to add our voices too, in his name. 

Rev. Canon Nathan Jarvis

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