Old High St Stephen’s, Inverness
Sunday 9 February 2014: Year A, Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
I once heard it said that political parties were ‘a coalition of different interests’. What that means is: the people in a political party have some ideals which unite them, which bring them together in order to work together. But within a party there will be people who have different emphases, who will support different ways of putting their beliefs into action. The Conservative Party, for example, has its Eurosceptics, and those who are pro-Europe. Some Labour Party members will be happier to be called ‘socialists’ because they have more left-wing views. All parties are like that- a coalition within one party!
And quite often, we use the phrase ‘a broad church’ to describe party, or some other organisation or movement, which encompass different kinds of people and with different ideas. The phrase originated in the mid-nineteenth century, when the Church of England had two wings, a High Church party and a Low Church party (see ‘Broad Church’ in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church; and Chambers Dictionary), and the Broad Churchmen wanted a liberal, inclusive way between the extremes. In fact, religious communities like are a bit like political parties in that respect. We are a coalition of interests, even in the same denomination, even in the same congregation. It was ever so.