RT REV CHRISTOPHER FOSTER, BISHOP OF PORTSMOUTH

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Bishop Christopher is urging us to support our leaders
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WE have now elected our new parliament, from which a new government will be formed.

That government has an unenviable task, which includes negotiating the best deal with Europe, dealing with terrorism, improving our country’s education and public services and all with the backdrop of a faltering economy.

They need our support in order to carry out their tasks.

But what support is it that they need?

Christians are encouraged to pray for leaders and all in authority.

Certainly good leadership is essential in troubled times.

This country has suffered terrible blows in the run up to this election.

But we are not the only ones who are the prey of Islamic militants.

Less than a month ago 28 Coptic Christians were gunned down as they went on pilgrimage in Egypt, and on Palm Sunday two of their churches were targeted by bombers, killing 50.

Bishop Angaelos from the Coptic church has said this about himself and leaders: ‘We need to be hope in increasing hopelessness, and light in an increasing darkness.

‘It is not enough for us only to lead in good times: good leadership is especially required at the most difficult of times.

‘Not only is it required, it is essential because it is at those difficult times that people look to a beacon and they look to someone to follow.’

We may have our own ideas about what constitutes good leadership: certainly what constitutes good leadership in one situation may not suit another.

The Anglican Cathedral in Portsmouth is dedicated to Thomas a Becket, former Archbishop of Canterbury, martyred in his own cathedral.

The records of that event say that as the knights who had come to murder Thomas arrived, the monks called out, ‘Bar the doors. Bar the doors. We will protect our Archbishop.’

Becket cried out: ‘Unbar the doors, unbar the doors.

‘The church will protect its own in its own way.’

That way was to accept suffering and loss.

And so I invite you to join me to pray for and actively support our leaders, whoever it is we elected yesterday, that they would have unselfish courage, compassion and endurance as they make decisions that affect the lives of others and shoulder the heavy burdens of office.