A heartfelt welcome to the Rev Boris ‘Billy Graham’ Johnson, who has gone beyond the call of duty to preach the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whom he boldly proclaimed as “the way, the truth and the life” – quoting Jesus’ words in John 14:6.1
And as if that wasn’t enough, opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer joined in praise for the Church’s outstanding contribution towards overcoming the UK’s Covid pandemic.
In an Easter message, the prime minister paid tribute to the way in which Christians had shown that the teachings of Christ and the message of His death and resurrection “permeate through every aspect of daily life”.
“If there’s one thing British Christians have shown us this year,” he said, “it’s that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life – not just today but every day.
“That’s why I’ve lost count of the number of church leaders and congregations that have stepped up to support us all in these very challenging times,” he added.
“Millions of Good Samaritans, each of them showing what loving thy neighbour as thyself really looks like in 21st century Britain.
“And having done all that during the darkest days of the pandemic, churches across the UK are now helping us light the path out of it by opening their doors as vaccination centres. It’s really, very moving to see it.”
A victim of Covid himself, having nearly died of the virus after reportedly requesting a Gideon Bible on entering hospital, the Conservative Leader is indeed testament to what many claim to be the overall success, against enormous odds, of Britain’s approach to the pandemic.
Some talk of hypocrisy in view of his perceived behaviour, as others have done in the case of outgoing US President Donald Trump, but I would point to the Apostle Paul’s argument, expressed to the Philippian believers (Phil 1:15-18) – that whatever the motive of individual preachers, it means that the Gospel is being proclaimed!
Meanwhile, we are witnessing the awesome rarity of Britain’s main political parties being united – as in war – over their support for the Church of Christ.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (though a declared atheist, he is named after the party’s Christian co-founder Keir Hardie) also paid tribute to the Christian community for its work in supporting others during the Coronavirus pandemic. He said he was “in awe” of their efforts over the past twelve months.
“The Christian community has always been there for the marginalised and for those that need support and help, but over the last year that has shone through so strong and so visible for everybody to see,” he said.
“Whether that’s work in churches with foodbanks, I’ve seen so many in our churches supplying food to those that need it in our communities.
“Whether it’s vaccine centres…or just the pure volunteering and looking out for people within our communities. Thank you for everything you’ve done during this pandemic. Thank you for all that support and community spirit.”
He added: “I know Easter is a special time for Christians. It’s a time for hope and renewal. And, as we come out of this pandemic, I think those values will be so important to us as a nation.”
Sadly, there was a woke backlash from the Labour Campaign for LGBT+ Rights after Sir Keir visited one of these supporting churches which has been widely criticised for its attitudes towards homosexuality.
The group said it was “unacceptable” after the party leader posted a video online highlighting his visit to the Jesus House in Brent Cross, north London. But they had since received an “unreserved apology” and would be holding a further meeting to ensure it did not happen again.
Let’s hope the Coronavirus pandemic doesn’t happen again – or else we might once more have to turn to Christians for help. But I don’t wish to end on a sour note. Please pray for both Boris and Sir Keir – that the sweet taste of Easter hope will whet their appetites for further foraging into the green pastures of the Lord of glory.