By Reverend Canon Leslie Martin
It’s helpful for my day-to-day work as a missionary to remember the Incarnation. God came in the flesh. Covenants had failed, Law had failed, Prophets and their pleadings and arguments had failed. Only God coming himself succeeded. I often feel a failure- culture, language, race and expectations mean that much of what I say and do gets a mixed result at best. It’s often discouraging- until I remember the Incarnation. God’s greatest gift was to be God with us, and my own small gift here is not so much what I say or do perhaps but that I’m here- and why I’m here, and how I’m here.
I share this because I believe that we in this Caucus and in this party are involved in “missionary politics.” The political landscape we find ourselves in has been dominated by other parties and philosophies forever. The current culture is not at all friendly (to say the least) to notions of subsidiarity, solidarity and distributism. It is virulently anti-life. We often try to argue people into our viewpoint, but it seldom works. Instead, the invective and name-calling comes. Or counter arguments abound. In short, it seldom works and we can easily lose hope. Or at least I do- sometimes I read responses to carefully crafted arguments simplistically shot down, ignored or yelled off the forum and I think “No one wants what we are selling. Why bother?”
But what if we are indeed involved in missionary politics? What if our work is so radically different that it requires an incarnational approach rather than a debating hall method? Jesus called his followers to be salt and light- substances that by their presence change their environment. What if how we live and how we serve in our communities proves the truth of our political philosophy better than pointless social media debates? Because I have a hunch that even if online hothouses and political salons don’t want what we offer, tired hopeless people in hollowed-out communities actually do.
If I’m right at all, it will be harder and take longer. A few words on social media are quite a bit easier to manage than changed lives- beginning with my own- and restored families and revitalized communities. But which does the world need? And which will truly make the case for our principles and philosophy?
In the Incarnation, God didn’t phone it in- he came himself. To the extent that I am a useful missionary at all, my friends here tell me it’s because I’m here, with them, no matter what. Perhaps to the extent that we live out a missionary politics as salt and light where we are, the ASP will succeed. And if we can be bold enough to win the debate with our lived lives in actual communities, I bet the social media argument will take care of itself.