Walk in the ancient paths

The Revd Hannah Cartwright

‘Stand at the cross roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it and find rest for your souls’ (Jeremiah 6.16)

As the TV debates hot up, election fever is rapidly gripping the Nation. Watching political rivals disagree on almost everything has become something of a national sport and can certainly leave one feeling confused about which road we should choose to go down for the next chapter in the life of UK citizens.

There is no doubt that we are at a cross roads and, if biblical precedent is anything to go by, we should be cautious abut choosing the ‘quick fix’ or what bodes well only for ourselves in the moment. The path to flourishing is, we are told, narrow and certainly not always easy. It is evident that no party, policy, political system, or person, is perfect. But what can our faith contribute to helping us make a wise choice with the information we have available? Perhaps, the answer lies not in who/what ‘promises big’ in the future, but in who/what has reliably demonstrated the values we are called to live by in the past. Who consistently looks beyond themselves, and fashionable rhetoric, to seek the flourishing of others?

The ancient paths, which Jeremiah recalls God imploring his people to look to, are not about embodying ‘old fashioned values’, but instead point back to the Mosaic covenant; the Law which was given by God to help his people live well in society. They are the foundation of our own laws today; but, far beyond a set of rules, this Law was about a way of life which brought us into better relationship with God, with neighbour, with creation and within oneself. It is a Law which Jesus came to fulfil by removing all barriers to relationship with God as he walked among us, cared for the needy, forgave the sinner, loved the outcast and, ultimately, worried far more about our eternal flourishing than his own popularity.