In unpacking the meaning and usage of the currently ubiquitous word “manifesto”, the BBC website notes that a political manifesto is usually made up of a series of promises or pledges. It goes on to remind us that: “One sense of “pledge” – as the object given to a pawnbroker which is forfeited if a debt is not repaid – retains the meaning not just of a promise, but of risking something if it is not kept.”
There will be a plethora of pledges from our political parties prior to the election, but I wonder just how much those making the pledges are taking a personal risk. Whichever party is in government after the election, most of the senior politicians will still have a seat and a job, whether they win or lose. When they leave parliament, either voluntarily or through the ballot box, and whether they have won or lost, they still seem to have significant income potential from lecture tours, public speaking engagements, autobiographies etc.
Without real personal risk on the part of those who make these manifesto pledges, what faith can we really have that they will be honored? In contrast, in this season of Easter, our tradition is that at any Holy Communion service, whatever else we have as readings, we will always have a reading from the Acts of the Apostles. This whole story of the building of the early church is one of personal risk-taking by the apostles, inspired by the events of Easter and Pentecost, often risking and losing their lives for the cause of the Gospel, so that we might know and have faith in the risen Christ.
O that our politicians were equally inspiring!
Revd Canon David Smith, Team Rector North Cheltenham Team Ministry