That sermon!

Bishop Mike Royal experiences history being made at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast.

The National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast has been a fixture in the ecumenical calendar for many years. Led by Christians in Parliament and attended by 700 delegates, it is an opportunity for church and Christian leaders to invite their local MP’s to gather at Westminster for fellowship and prayer. It involves representatives from across the political spectrum and is one of the few opportunities in the year where politicians like Tim Farron (Liberal Democrat); Janet Daby (Labour) and Danny Kruger (Conservative) stand together side-by-side in Christian prayer and faith.

This year, we were honoured that Rev Les Isaac OBE, founder of Street Pastors was the guest speaker. His speech was a masterclass, laced with humour but also challenge. As the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and several Cabinet Ministers listened, Les’ words particularly struck the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP. He took the decision to resign from the Cabinet and cited Les’ sermon as part of the reason for making this decision.

Later that day, in his resignation speech in Parliament, Sajid Javid said “this House broke bread together at the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast and listened to the words of Rev Les Isaac who spoke about the responsibility that comes with leadership the responsibility to serve the interests of others above your own and to seek the common good.” In a later interview with the BBC, Sajid Javid elaborated on this, saying “I was listening to the sermon by this amazing man, Rev Les Isaac…he started Street Pastors. I was listening to him talking about the importance of integrity in public life & just focusing on that, I made up my mind. I …drafted the resignation letter and went to see the Prime Minister”.

Shermara Fletcher's tweet quoting Andy Flanaghan about Sajid Javid's resignation

CTE’s Shermara Fletcher reflected the following on social media. “Powerful to see what ecumenical prayer & preaching can do in public life and amazing to see how Rev Les Isaac’s sermon moved the dial”. She quoted Christian singer-songwriter, Andy Flannagan: “If you are preaching anywhere today, don’t underestimate what could happen – Sajid Javid confirms it was Les Isaac’s sermon at National Prayer Breakfast that nudged him to resign & instigated this week’s seismic events”.

I was there as a guest of the Trussell Trust, representing Churches Together in England and as a panellist at a seminar chaired by the Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell on the issue of the moment – the cost of living crisis. As I listened to the other panellists and spoke myself about the need to dispel the myth of the undeserving poor, I had no idea that politics was unravelling, history was being made and my faith in the timeless message of the gospel was being reaffirmed!