Rare, political post coming up!
The whole B-word debacle rumbles on, and illustrates time and again that making decisions by 'simple majority' is never simple. In the last few years two referrenda have shown that seeking 50.0000000000000001% is not a good basis for decision making.
In church we know that. I've never been part of a church decision of any importance that was made on anything less than "two thirds plus one" and usually much higher, at 75% or 90%.
Back in 2003, I failed to be called to a church by 2 votes. They would have called on 75%, I got 72%. It hurt. It hurt like crazy and all these years later I still feel sad when I remember it. But this much I can say - it was a clear decision, properly made, and able to be supported by the whole church.
Also back in 2003, I was called to a church by 2 votes. They would also call on 75%, I think I got 78%. It was an honest vote - I knew not everyone was convinced of the call, and one abstained on the in grounds they hadn't heard me preach. This much I can say - it was a clear decision, properly made, and one that everyone could get behind.
In 2009, I needed to secure 90% for a call to my present pastorate. There was a 'backstop' that if the vote was close either way, a second confirmatory vote would be held, allowing people to support or not, as they felt led, the call. The actual vote was 98% so the second vote wasn't taken. It felt good - a ringing affirmation of the call I felt. Once again, it was a clear decision, made properly, and everyone could get being it.
I wish that politicians would learn from the churches... I wish that they would/could slow down and take the time to really listen to each other (perhaps asking them to listen to God is a step too far!)... And I wish they would set the bar sufficiently high that only those issues where there was a real degree of support could be passed.
If the EU Referendum had needed even 66.7%, then both sides would have had to work far harder to make their case. Had it needed the 75% or even 90% level that churches would demand for decisions of such import, I somehow doubt it would ever have happened - and that would, in my view, have been a good thing.
Now we have an exhausted, and probably quite ill, Prime Minister, who has pursued to the n'th degree something that she didn't even want. Whatever my views, she has worked incredibly hard (as have the folk in the EU) and done her best. Parliament is in disarray, money has been squandered and people left wondering just what on earth is going to happen. It makes me very sad indeed.
So, I am grateful for the practices of the churches, to take time, to pray, to ponder (and maybe even to procrastinate sometimes!) and then to set a bar high enough that the work done before a vote is taken is sufficient to give good confidence in that decision.