Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sermon for Lent 5: The Raising of Lazarus


Sermon for Lent 5 2020                The Raising of Lazarus    John 11:1-44

At first sight, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is a straightforward hero to the rescue story. Just like in lots of other tales of people with magic powers, Jesus arrives at a situation that is beyond the capacity of ordinary human beings to change, transforms it, and everyone lives happily ever after. Powerful, inspiring, encouraging… or is it?
The more I read the story, the more I find myself struggling with difficult questions:
  • Did it really happen? There’s a lot of symbolism in John’s gospel, so should we see this as representing any actual event at all?
  • If Jesus can do this, why didn’t he do it more often? What’s special about Lazarus?
  • Why didn’t Jesus get there before he died?
  • What are we to take away from a story that is at such a remove from anything we are likely to encounter? Or to put it another way, why did John include it in his Gospel as one of the “signs” that Jesus did?
Answering all of those in order would end up sounding more like an essay on John’s gospel than a sermon, but I’ll try and share some of my own ways of dealing with these as we go along.
First of all, it’s worth getting the scene straight in our minds, in order to understand what’s going on. This all takes place about half-way through John’s gospel, so that should give us a signal. Jesus is already under threat of arrest (John 10:39) and he and the disciples have taken refuge ‘across the Jordan’. The result of this episode is that the authorities plan for Jesus to be executed (11:53). Jesus makes a second visit to Bethany shortly after this in chapter 12, and then goes on to enter Jerusalem on a donkey, which we will be marking next week on Palm Sunday.
So, in John’s gospel this is a turning point, even though it is an event not recorded in the other gospels. [Martha and Mary appear in Luke, with the famous scene of Mary listening to Jesus and Martha doing the catering (Luke 10:38-42). Lazarus is only mentioned here, although Jesus uses the name in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)]
And it is true that John likes to bring out the symbolism in events and locations, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss his ability to record history. Around the end of the nineteenth century, his gospel was seen by many academics as being written long after Jesus’ earthly ministry, and they thought that John created a lot of the detail. Then archaeologists discovered the pool of Bethesda from John 5, and since then his historical information has been taken more seriously.
Whatever we think actually happened with Lazarus in this story, there is good reason to think that John believed he was recording events that occurred, as well as highlighting their meaning.

Now, if you heard that a close friend was seriously ill, you would get in contact with them or a relative. Maybe you’d try and phone, or perhaps send a card. Before the days of covid-19, you would probably want to visit, and the restrictions we are now under are placing a lot of strain on people who want to be close to critically ill loved-ones. It’s a natural instinct to want to be there.
If your visit could have a positive impact on someone’s recovery, you would make that visit a top priority, unless there were very good reasons to stop you. Why didn’t Jesus go when he heard the news? It doesn’t make any sense at first reading, unless you believe that poor old Lazarus had to die to serve the purpose of being a visual aid for Jesus.
In the sequence John gives us, Jesus only shares the news of Lazarus’ illness with his followers in verse 11, so the message came privately and he kept the news to himself. His stay for 2 days in the place where he was is described as being out his love for his 3 friends. I go with Tom Wright’s comments on this - that Jesus chooses to stay where he was (v.6) because he needed time to pray, to think and to wrestle with this terrible choice between two unpleasant outcomes. We know from the rest of the story that going to Bethany would set off events that lead to the crucifixion. The choice was to let his friend die, or endanger 12 disciples and himself.
All of us feel conflicted sometimes, but they seem very acute for Jesus. We see that in the Garden of Gethsemane when he is in anguish about whether to go through with things at all or run away. However we understand the idea of Jesus being human and divine, the gospels record deep struggles of conscience, and this needed time for prayer. And I find that strangely reassuring. It wasn’t all easy for Jesus, so that means he gets it when it’s not all easy for us. Jesus isn’t an alien being trying to be human, he is human and so somehow in the mystery of who God is, there is understanding for the difficult predicaments we get ourselves into.
Then Jesus decides: they’re going to Judea – to Bethany. The disciples clearly know the risks, and Thomas states it bluntly “let us also go, that we may die with him”. Whether it’s a statement of resignation and despair, or loyalty and commitment is hard to know, but Thomas seems to know the risks. Jesus knows them too, and he knows that confronting death at Lazarus’ tomb will be only a foretaste on the confrontation to come.
Then Jesus arrives, and Martha meets him outside the house. If we were Martha, I suspect we wouldn’t be able to control ourselves – who wouldn’t? “If you had been here, he’d be alive” is a brutal accusation. The Bible is full of people being honest and blunt with God about their feelings – just read a few psalms to see their despair, their needs and their fears. God wants honesty far more than he desires politeness, and Martha demonstrates this perfectly to us.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t rebuke Martha for speaking so boldly. Although their conversation reveals that Martha believes in resurrection one day – as many Jews did by the time of Jesus – that’s not what she wants at this moment. She wants Lazarus alive and well, as did her sister Mary, who restates Martha’s point. We know from Luke of her devotion to Jesus, and it seems to connect. John describes Jesus as deeply moved. In the 16th century, when the Bible was given chapters and verses (they’re not in the original texts), it gave us the shortest verse in English bibles, John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. Just before the story moves on to what we call the passion, we see Jesus’ emotional state, as he sees the sisters and others there who were grieving, and he felt it too for his friends.
The next part of the scene prefigures Easter in a number of ways – a tomb made out of a cave, a stone needing to be rolled away, and linen strips binding the body. The body has been there 4 days (which some rabbis taught 4 days was the time needed to be sure someone was dead) and Martha, ever the practical one, warns against the smell. But the stone is rolled away, we hear of no smell, and Lazarus is summoned out. Lazarus emerges alive, still wrapped up in his grave clothes. Significantly, Jesus says “Unbind him, and let him go”. In other words, set him free!
What’s striking is how little fuss is made of this by John afterwards. The story moves straight on, once Lazarus emerges. We just get a note a few verses later that the authorities wanted to execute poor old Lazarus, too – as if he hadn’t been through enough!
So what does John want us to take from this story, given some of the problems it raises?
First, I think he’s emphasising the compassion of Jesus. It’s clearly not the norm for Jesus to go around bringing people back to life. The gospels record three examples. We might debate whether they were actually dead, but these events are unusual. This is the last time Jesus will see three friends, and his compassion means he does something unusual out of his compassion for them. Jesus didn’t cure everyone in his world, or bring everyone who had just died back to life. But in this place, and at this moment, this is how he communicated his compassion to his friends. And it meant him confronting and overcoming death in a specific instance, before he would do so comprehensively at the resurrection.
Secondly, it says something about his mission. What lies ahead of him is a terrible future. All of the gospels refer to Jesus speaking of what will happen. The thought to carry him through that, must be the hope of resurrection, which he also predicts in other places. This event serves as a kind of symbol of that. I don’t believe that Lazarus was a kind of pawn in a game, but Jesus must have hoped that by doing this exceptional act, he might point his friends to a hope for the future – that death need not have the final say.
Finally, (and this may sound strange) this is a resuscitation, not a resurrection. Lazarus will die again, and we don’t know when that was to be. Jesus has not taken away his mortality by restoring him; he has extended his biological life. Dying is an inevitable part of being human, and this miracle doesn’t do away with that. In a very sense, this miracle merely postpones what for all of us is an acute and profound issue – that of our own mortality.
Instead of taking away that mortality, what Jesus did come to bring us was something else – the message of resurrection. Denying the reality of death is to deny our humanity. However, what Jesus brings through his life, death and resurrection is the possibility of having the fear of death lifted from us. The raising of the Lazarus is not what opens up that possibility; it is what Jesus goes through himself.
There is something unique here in the Christian faith. We believe in a God who came in a specific contained human form, experienced all of the limitations that brings. He knew hunger, thirst, love, grief and pain from a human point of view, and then went through suffering and death and out the other side. He doesn’t come to take our humanity away, with all its complexities, but to transform our experience of being human, knowing we are loved to eternity.
That doesn’t answer all the questions. It doesn’t stop us sometimes feeling that life has treated us badle, that it’s not fair, or even questioning whether God is there at all. But it does help us not to throw everything away, and encourages us to hold on to the hope that in Jesus we don’t have a temperamental wonder-worker who sometimes delivers the goods, but that in him we have something truer and deeper. That in the love he revealed, our fears can be calmed, we can know we are loved, and we can trust that for eternity.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Annunciation

Earlier today I put a post on Facebook about this picture. I came across it recently at a gathering with my colleagues. Painted at the end of the 1470s by Messina, it depicts what Christians call the Annunciation - the moment when Mary received the news from the angel that she will  be the mother of Jesus.


I'm not an expert on art, nor am I from a church background that makes a lot of church festivals about the Virgin Mary, but I think this is great image. Far from being a meek and submissive image, Mary comes across as strong (and literate!) and attentive. Unlike many of the pictures painted of this scene, we do not see the angel; we only see light on Mary's face.

This strong woman, reaching out toward the light, seems like she has some control; she is not overwhelmed. Despite news which must have been incomprehensibly significant, she looks like she is deciding yes. In the gospel story, this is the start of light coming in to the world. Perhaps we need something of her faith, her hope and her strength to find some light in our own darkness.


Monday, March 23, 2020

The mathematics of pandemics

There's been a lot of coverage on how people are still not getting the message about keeping your distance and minimising contact with others. I guess a lot of people are wondering what difference their contribution might make - even if they were infectious. And anyway, isn't it all like flu which comes round every year?

If you haven't got time to watch the video, or you didn't follow it, here's the calculation.

On average someone with flu infects 1.3 people (OK there's no such thing as 1.3 people, but it's an average)

If that infection process happens 10 times over then 1.3x1.3..  [ten times over] = 13.78. Let's call it 14.

On the video he says flu infects 1.3-1.4 on average. Put 1.4 in the equation and you get 28.9. Let's call that 29. That's double.

But if a virus is more easily transmitted, each person with it will infect more. Let's see what happens if a bug meant each infected person passed it on to 2 more people, and that happened 10 times over

2 x 2 = 4
2 x 2 x 2 = 8
...
2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 1024

According to Professor Montgomery, with covid-19 the it's 3 people. And if you put 3 into the calculation, you get:

59049

That's right. Over 59,000 people infected. And that's why it's important to close off as many avenues as possible for this thing to spread.

Sermon for Mothering Sunday / Lent 4 / the day the churches closed

I didn't actually preach this - I posted it on our church's website. It isn’t the sermon I would have preached if we had actually held a Mothering Sunday service. However, it seemed the right thing to be saying in the present circumstances.

Psalm 34:11-20  is one of the psalms set for Mothering Sunday

11 Come, my children, and listen to me;
   I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is there who delights in life
   and longs for days to enjoy good things?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
   and your lips from lying words.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
   seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous
   and his ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
   to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry and the Lord hears them
   and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
   and will save those who are crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the troubles of the righteous;
   from them all will the Lord deliver them.
20 He keeps all their bones,
   so that not one of them is broken.   (NRSV)

Most experiences in life contain some mixed emotions. I remember taking my Uncle Jack’s funeral. When I was talking to my aunt in preparation, she was adamant that I must include a funny story at his expense. He was a builder, and the story featured a entertaining encounter he had with a vicar when doing work at his church. As a new curate, being a clergyperson was now my profession, so it made it all the more amusing. Over the years since, I have known quite a few funerals to feature laughter mixed up with the tears. In the midst of the sadness of letting go, it affirms that the person we’re remembering had a sense of humour, did and said funny things, and brought us joy.
Likewise, a happy event can have its poignant side. The birth of my first granddaughter Ava is an overwhelmingly happy thing, and every picture I see of her makes me smile. But every now and then I catch a glimpse of something in her face that is a hint of the granny she will never know, and I feel a slight twinge of sadness that she will never know Debbie, and that we can’t share the experience of this new little person together. It doesn’t last long, and it certainly doesn’t spoil the joy, but I can’t deny that the feeling is there.
And so it is with Mothering Sunday – almost universally called Mother’s Day in the rest of the country. In the church, we might protest that it’s really about mother church, the mothering attributes of God, or in more catholic traditions a chance to talk about the Virgin Mary. But for most people, it is about mothers, and the uncomfortable truth is that celebrating mothers and motherhood in a church service [or the wider community] is emotionally complicated.
It’s tough on those who have lost their mothers. Those of us who are older may feel it less. For example, my mum was 80 when she died 10 years ago, she’d had a good life, and we were on good terms when it happened. It was a sudden shock when she died, but it has never made Mothering Sunday difficult for me, apart from a slightly odd feeling when I don’t need to buy a card. And I’m old enough for it to be relatively normal not to have one or both parents still with us. But it’s hard for those, who like my own children have lost their mum whilst still young, and are perhaps reminded not only of who they lost, but the times and celebrations that can no longer be shared.
Of course, losing a parent doesn’t always mean that they have died. Over the years I have known a lot of people who have had difficult or problematic relationships with their mothers, or were effectively abandoned by them. Some have even been abused by them. If we idealise motherhood in our Mothering Sunday celebrations in church, we risk alienating many who are present.
There are also those who have lost children, for whom the day might be a painful time, as they reflect on a child who has never been there to send a card or gift. And there are also women who have no children – either by choice, or infertility. Again, if we idealise the status of motherhood, what does that imply about those women who have not become mothers, or have lost their children?
From this you can see that planning worship for Mothering Sunday is not a straightforward as you might first think. How do we bring that complex mix of feelings to God? How do we worship Him, pray to Him, and learn from Him in a way that does at least some justice to everyone’s feelings and expectations?
That’s why I feel it is always important to acknowledge those difficulties that some people may have before going into anything more celebratory. The Christian community should be a place where that mix of emotions and experiences and stories can be brought and acknowledged together, and we should be able to do that without trampling on people’s grief and sadness, and also without simply appearing to be spoilsports. God wants us to pray and worship with honesty, integrity, and with compassion for those around us.
One of the great things about the great book of poetry in the Old Testament that we call the Psalms is that it contains the whole spectrum of human emotions right up next to each other – often in the same psalm. There’s love, hate, praise, penitence, anger, reassurance, peace, violence, desire for reconciliation, thanksgiving and more. Some psalms praise God in great adulation; others accuse God of being deaf and uncaring about His people. In this psalm you can see that range: the righteous, those who do evil and the brokenhearted are all mentioned.  There’s a recognition that life is hard, even for the faithful, although there is hope of ultimate deliverance.
Whatever state we are in, we need reminding of the emotions of others. It’s perhaps more obvious that those who are caught up in joy and thanksgiving should be aware of and sensitive to the needs of those who are grieving and hurting. Perhaps less obvious is that sorrow and despair also needs challenging. I once heard a story about a group Jews in a Nazi concentration camp meeting behind one of the sheds and praising God. They couldn’t possibly have done so in those circumstances as a result of any sense of happiness; the situation was so desperately bleak. Rather, it was suggested that this was more like protest. It meant facing fear, despair, sorrow and destruction and saying that their spirits would not be completely overwhelmed by it. Perhaps there are times when we are brought low – in much less drastic and dramatic ways - when we need some encouragement to protest against despair, and also be challenged by those who already do.
So on this strange COVID-19 Mothering Sunday when we cannot meet for a service of worship, maybe that’s the thought to take away with us. Many of us will feel despair at the way our lives have become unrecognisable compared to what they were only 2 or 3 weeks ago. Perhaps some of us are feeling a complex mix of emotions because of the nature of today - Mothering Sunday. Quite possibly some of us are separated from our mothers by geography or self-isolation, which would not have been factors a few weeks ago, and feel a new and different sense of loss: the loss of contact.
If we are brought low by all of this, it maybe that we need to protest with a song of praise. A song that defies the pressures and factors that bring us low and make us less than what we actually are. In defiance of a narrative that brings fear and shrinks our lives and world, perhaps the message of today is to praise, to marvel at the expanse of the universe and the diversity of creation, and to praise the God who is its source. 
And if we are still in good spirits and feeling positive, perhaps we need to encourage and lift up (metaphorically and with no contact, of course!) those around us, show compassion to those who are despairing, and continue to hold out the hope that come what may, we are loved and valued by God, and He has not deserted us. As our ancient poet said in the psalm:
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
   and will save those who are crushed in spirit.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Rob Halligan: Always Heading Home

Really looking forward to welcoming singer-songwriter Rob Halligan back to St Nick's, Beverley. It's free to come, but it would help to know numbers, so if you know you're coming, drop us an email at:
stnicksoffice@gmail.com, leave a message on 01482 863542 or book via Eventbrite here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rob-halligan-always-heading-home-tickets-89276104231 Rob returns to St Nick's, Beverley to perform songs and tell stories from his life. It's quite a story - including a period without a home, and losing his father in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. Big themes in Rob's songs are forgiveness and the power of love to overcome bitterness and hate. Rob has also done work for Globalcare https://www.globalcare.org - a charity working with refugees in Lebanon on the Syrian border. Rob's set will include new material from his new CD Always Heading Home, as well as tracks from earlier albums. There will be an interval with a licensed bar, when you can have a chat to Rob and buy CDs and merchandise. There will be an opportunity to donate towards expenses, and any surplus on the night will go to Globalcare.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Jono Peatman CD release

On Friday we had a family get-together over in Lancaster for the launch of Jono's first CD. It contains two worship tracks that he has written and recorded with assistance from friends at St Thomas' and other churches.

The tracks are also on Spotify, Amazon Music and iTunes. They are starting to pick up interest on Spotify in a surprising variety of places around the world, so good work by the boy.

Here's one of them via Youtube.




Friday, December 13, 2019

A thought on the election: the power of 3 words

Quite a few years ago, I went to a training session on communication for churches. In one section, they discussed mission statements. All too often church mission statements on noticeboards are lengthy paragraphs of how the church will worship more faithfully, care more lovingly, serve the community and several more laudable and Christian aims.

The problem with that, according to our speaker is that few remember or even read them to the end. They may be a useful reference document for a church council, but they won't galvanise a vision. What was needed was something more concise, and the examples he gave were perestroika and rainbow nation. In the Soviet Union as it crumbled, and in South Africa emerging from apartheid, very simple phrases or even a single word captured the aspirations of a nation and even entered the language of other countries. Looking back we can analyse and suggest they may not have achieved what they hoped for, but at the time they were very effective.

At the 2016 referendum, the Leave campaign coined "take back control", and in this election Boris Johnson and his cohorts kept saying "get Brexit done". Both phrases beg all kinds of questions, fail to stand up to rigorous intellectual scrutiny, and can get dismissed as empty. The point that was missed by those who mocked was that people remembered 3 words, and they meant that the focus came back again and again to the issue each campaign wanted dead centre, and kept attention away from more awkward questions or more nuanced arguments.

The remain campaign had no such equivalent phrase to counter the brexiters in 2016. In the election campaign, Labour's take on Brexit was complicated and had changed over the previous months, meaning the campaign could only come up with adding the derivative phrase "get Brexit sorted" as part of a much longer explanation.

A three-word phrase can be dismissed as a vacuous slogan, but Dominic Cummings and his team understood that the detail isn't important at impact. You can deal with that later - get the phrase in people's heads and the fewer words the better.

We probably won't have a General Election again  until 2024, but whenever it comes, don't underestimate the power of 3 words.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Gareth Davies-Jones In Concert

I'm wanting to plug this everywhere, so in case anyone still reads this blog from time to time, this will be a brilliant way into Advent and Christmas.

Tickets available online here


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Brexit Tales 4: The Christian with the Tract

It would have been either 1982 or 1983 whilst I was a student. I walked past this bloke in Oxford and he pushed a leaflet into my hand - maybe he could sniff out Christians, or just spotted my bad clothes. I stuffed it into my coat pocket and thought no more about it for a couple of days, as those sorts of tracts are usually pretty awful - especially theologically and presentationally.

Some time the following week I must have been bored, as I found the leaflet in my pocket and took a look. The details are a bit hazy now, but I do remember clearly that it was very agitated about the EEC and the UN. The issue with the EEC was something to do with it having [then] 9 members states, which correlated with something about judgment or the end. Meanwhile the UN was seen as a step towards world government, which would apparently usher in all manner of evil (rather than a more peaceful world).

As is often the case with these kinds of tracts, it was all based on verses from Revelation. The approach is usually to try and find some kind of correlation between events, people or numbers in that book and see it as proof of some forthcoming significant moment. Over the years I've had a few circular letters that have long screeds of apocalyptic stuff sent to me as a vicar. This was an early encounter.

Since then it has intrigued me that a certain kind of Christianity has continued to have a hostile view of the EU in keeping with the man with the tract. I'll come back to broader-based Christian views of brexit in a future post; the opposition I'm talking about here comes from a very particular kind of spirituality which sees secular organisations not just as neutral or non-religious, but as actively hostile and even in the hands of evil. as such it can all get a bit conspiracy-theory in its most extreme forms.

Last summer I attended a course at a Christian conference centre. Another group of women from some kind of pentecostal/charismatic network were using nearby rooms, and it was a hot summer's day so the windows were open. One of our group overheard them earnestly praying that "these evil men won't thwart God's will for brexit". We concluded that dialogue in the bar later would probably not be fruitful. More recently I came across the website of another preacher of a similar theological ilk describing brexit as a miracle from God that will enable revival. I couldn't help thinking that it was all a long way from why many Anglicans voted leave (I promise I will come back to that!)

Anyway back to tract man. There was an address on the leaflet - some kind of PO Box if I remember right. So out of curiosity (and I was a Christian Union rep after all) I wrote him a reply, challenging some of the points politely, quoting the odd Bible verse and asking a few questions. The letter was returned - the address didn't exist. The EEC grew in number and became the EU with 28 members. Maybe tract man has another leaflet that can tell us what 28 (or 27) signifies.

Hang on. 27= 3 x 9. Suspicious, eh?



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Brexit Tales 3: The North York Moors Railway

You probably weren't expecting that. Let me explain.

At the end of February half-term I had a day off. It was a lovely sunny day, so as trains were running, I went up to Pickering and took a journey on the North York Moors Railway all the way to Grosmont. It's a wonderful little place, complete with a picturesque station and a special Coop all of its own


As there was plenty of time, I decided to walk the Rail Trail back to Goathland and then catch the final train to Pickering from there. It's a decent length walk, but it follows the original tramway, built by George Stephenson that was replaced by the current railway. As a result it's a nice wide path, mainly flat, apart from quite a long, steady incline into Gothland itself.

Near the start of the walk, I noticed this sign

Full noticeboard

Then I spotted that the bottom of the sign had this (sorry about the quality)

The EU bit
It turns out that EU funding helped to make the Rail Trail happen. This small, fading label is the only evidence and reminder that that was the case (unless you download the linked leaflet and read the smaller print.) And all over the UK, I suspect that there are plenty of other projects and developments where we are completely unaware that EU money made it happen, as we aren't always very good at signposting it. A key part of debunking the £350 million a week on the side of the bus was the fact that a lot of EU funding flows back - including the "Thatcher rebate", payments for agriculture etc, funding research, Erasmus student scholarships, and funding for regional development.


Now at this point if any enthusiastic supporters of brexit have got this far, they might raise the fact that this funding is not completely under the control of the UK government. Let's be clear - that is true. In fact, I would suggest that is an advantage. A government of whatever political persuasion will always be susceptible to the temptation to be more generous to certain areas than others out of political concerns. Not exactly buying votes, but it helps. If the strategic allocation decision is taken further away, based on criteria agreed by all member states, then it has a much better chance of being free from party political bias.

Back in the 1980s, I was in Durham, and I remember people talking about how European funding provided significant funds for the North East as it lost its traditional industries. In the aftermath of the miners' strike and then pit closures, it meant that interest and initiative was taken, even though business parks and restoring the landscape couldn't bring back those traditional jobs. Similarly, Wales has received substantial funds. I looked it up: £3.8bn between 2007-2020 via European Structural Funds investment, helping support employment, training and research, £957m between 2014-2020 via the Rural Development Programme, supporting businesses, farmers and communities and £200m a year Common Agricultural Policy, helping 16,000 Welsh farms. Likewise, Cornwall has also had substantial EU regional funding. The sad irony is that these regions generally voted leave in substantial numbers.

Leave voters might say at this point that as the UK government won't be paying into the EU, it can do its own grants. However, we have yet to see enough political commitment to do so (and just at the moment it's hard to see who is in charge anyway!) The UK government did announce a "Stronger Towns Fund", but we have yet to see detail about the "Shared Prosperity Fund". What is clear is that the latter would need to send a lot more money to Cornwall, if it is to match what was scheduled to come from the EU. It looks like brexit will redistribute funds around the country, and the likelihood is that Eastern England and the South West will lose out.

Some of these changes might be desirable, but I'm not an expert so I don't know. What I do know is that when we voted in the referendum in June 2016, nearly all of us had no idea what impact our vote might have on the regional development funding our area would receive. If only we'd paid more attention to those little logos when we saw them, we might have asked more questions before we cast our vote.