Choices - ‘where to stick your cross’
No, this isn’t a political nudge. This isn’t the vicar trespassing into your personal views or asking you to vote for a specific political party. I expect that if I were crass enough to do so you might well tell me where to stick my cross. It is simply my reflection on how we use a cross to indicate personal choices or preferences.
The X has many roles. I recall from my school books and homework that an X frequently appeared in red ink and indicated that I was wrong. Evidentially my Maths teacher had an inexhaustible supply of red pens that seemed incapable of awarding me any other symbol. Later in life, still traumatised by my mathematical inadequacies, I have concluded that there are just three kinds of vicar - those who can count and those who can’t.
The X hasn’t always indicated my getting something wrong. Teenage school years introduced me to the ‘billet-doux’. Furtively passed down the lines of desks these were adolescent pledges of love and passion that would last forever, or at least until break time. The ubiquitous X had now become a symbol of love that represented a kiss. The only problem with school love notes, carefully written on folded scraps torn from exercise books, was the precarious nature of the delivery method. Often, the one that surreptitiously landed on my desk, which I then enthusiastically received and read, disappointingly turned out to be intended for a recipient two desks further down. But at least I learnt that the pervasive X didn’t always mean wrong - it could mean love.
Universally, the X also means choice. We use it in that square to indicate we don’t want publicity when we win the National Lottery, don’t want bombarding with adverts, emails, or follow up sales calls. Persistent surveys, and Customer Satisfaction forms, invite us to insert our X into the box that best describes our age, gender, ethnicity, household income, employment status, or when the insurance is due for renewal. Should we not wish to divulge all this marketing fodder we are still forced to utilise our X – by choosing to append it to the ‘mind your own business’ box.
Above all the myriad of personal choices we can put our X to work on, this month calls on us to pool our X’s to make a national choice. We can use it to select Mrs Blue, Mr Red or Yellow, Mr Purple is an option, and Mrs Green or Miss Independent may be available. A plethora of representational colours are vying for you X. Giving them a cross doesn’t mean that they are wrong, it doesn’t mean that you love them, it doesn’t mean you don’t want them to know you have just won the Euro-millions, or that you want an insurance quote in August. It simply means you have exercised your personal choice in choosing them to shape our national choices.
The Christian faith is also a choice, a choice centred around a very different cross. A Cross that deals with, and absorbs, all our wrongs. A Cross that doesn’t decline the publicity but declares loudly and clearly that you are loved. A Cross that is totally for you regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, income, employment status etc. Nor will God need an annual reminder to renew it for you, it is eternally in date. This is a Cross that has chosen you – all we need to do is choose to accept it.
Anyway, back to ‘where to stick your cross’ in this month’s General Election. It is your personal and private choice. A wonderful free choice that we all should exercise as one of our many privileges of living in a free country.
General Election Prayer:
Lord, we give thanks for the privileges and responsibilities of living in a democratic society.
Give us wisdom to play our part at election time, that, through the exercise of each vote, your Kingdom may come closer.
Protect us from despair and cynicism,
guard us against the idols of false utopias,
and strengthen us to make politics a noble calling that serves
the common good of all. Amen
Wishing you every blessing, Martin