Here is the blog I've written for the "Christians for Europe" website in the light of the Referendum result.
This is the day we hoped and prayed would never dawn.
But it has. The UK has voted to leave the European Union. After months of debate, the voters have decided. And even it's by a narrow margin, so narrow that less than half of the eligible adult population are behind a Brexit, that's the outcome. To say we are disappointed doesn't begin to express it. But a vote is a vote. We respect it.
There will be much to reflect on in the days ahead. There will be post-mortems. Why didn't we Remainers succeed in making our case for EU membership? Why did the nation fall for the self-interested inward-looking arguments of the Leave campaign? Why did our national politics become so divisive?
And more important, there will be big questions about the uncertain future that now lies ahead. What will become of the EU after this outcome? Will the UK's Union hold together or will Scotland go its own way? How do we reconfigure our trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world? We suddenly find ourselves in a strange Brexit-land where there are no landmarks and no map. The next few months and years could be turbulent not only for the UK but for Europe and the world.
How should we as pro-EU people of faith respond?
During the campaign, "Christians for Europe" has tried to help frame the referendum as a matter not simply of pragmatic politics ("what's best for Britain") but also of social ethics and a theology of society. We've emphasised the central tenets of our faith: loving our neighbour, standing in solidarity with the disadvantaged, seeking the common good, promoting life together rather than apart. We've wanted to argue that the European project is based on a fundamentally Christian vision of nationhood and common life.
All this still stands. So even if, to our immense sadness, the UK will soon be walking away from the EU, it mustn't stop us from being good Europeans who will continue to work closely with the peoples of our continent who are our natural allies and friends. We must go on taking a global view of our place in the world and not draw in our horizons as if we were some insignificant offshore island. We must continue to work away at trying to create a more wholesome politics of respect and compassion both internationally and in our own country.
In that spirit we shall go on seeking the welfare of the human family and playing our part as good citizens of our nation and our world. That will involve the healing of the divisions that opened up during the Referendum campaign, and we are committed to this too in both word and action. And it goes without saying: we must now, more than ever, say our prayers.
The Christian gospel of Jesus's death and resurrection makes us people of hope. We do not lose heart.
Perhaps I can end on a more personal note. If I say that I am heartbroken, I don't want you to think that I'm dramatising. But as this "day after" dawns, it's hard for me to see any good in it. So much of my own story is intertwined with the story of continental Europe - if you've been reading this blog regularly, you'll understand how. So it feels as if part of my identity is being stripped away, all that is symbolised by the words "European Union" displayed in the cover of my passport. I've been immensely proud of my EU citizenship. I've regarded it as a privilege to think of myself in that way. To face the fact that I am going to lose a fundamental aspect of myself feels terrible. It's as if a light is going out.
When it was clear that Leave were on their way to winning, Paddy Ashdown tweeted: "God help our country". I share his sense of desperation. Or is it desolation? Or devastation? All those words seem to fit. At a stroke, we find ourselves in exile. It feels like a lonely place to be.
But I know, of course, that it is not the end of the world, however bad it seems. What I wrote at the end of the official blog is the most important sentence of all. It's a quote from St Paul's second Corinthian letter where, having catalogued the ordeals and suffering he has had to face for the sake of the gospel, he speaks of his indomitable hope in the God of resurrection. "We do not lose heart."
I need to say those words to myself over and over again. It will take time to come to terms with what we have done as a nation. There are "fightings within and fears without". We undoubtedly face times of great difficulty. It may be that the UK may come to rue the day. But Paddy Ashdown has given me the clue about facing the future. "God help our country" is the best prayer we can say right now. For praying is all I can think of doing at this moment.
God will not abandon us, for all that we have done something extraordinarily foolish. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We must trust him.