…the principle I have just tried to set out for you, of giving ourselves to and for others, is not just about religion. There’s been a lot of talk about building the Big Society this year, and unfortunately the very phrase has become something of a political football, and been prejudiced too by the need to make such cuts. The fact remains, though, that 2012 has to be the year when we start to work together for the common good, or stay stuck in the gloom. Anything that is going to happen for good is likely to be bottom-up not top-down.
If we are going to do that we are going to need to engage together, and in three ways. To make them easy to remember, all three things begin with P. We are going to need to get our hands dirty and share in growing new provision for our communities. Christ came into the same regular world that you and I live in, and got stuck in. Whether it is care for the isolated and vulnerable, places for young people to hang out safely, transport for rural places, lunch clubs or language classes, there are a whole raft of practical bits of provision that we need to hang onto and if necessary recreate together. We have a great tradition of community action together ”“ and the churches have by and large played their part well ”“ but did you know that nationally 60% of men born in 1946 were members of local organisations when they were in their 30s, but by 1970 that figure had dropped to just 8%? 2012 is surely the year to reverse that trend….Together we can get things done.