Dear Church Family,
The first three weeks of the Biblical Foundations course have provided timely reflection for me over the last twelve days. During week one, I led a session on ‘God as Trinity’ and highlighted the passages in the Old Testament where the life of the triune God is visible. This means that we can witness to the work of Christ in the Old Testament, before his incarnation, as God sets about creating the world. The two subsequent weeks of the course focussed on that act of creation.
They are timely because tomorrow is Trinity Sunday, but more importantly because they speak of the innate value of humanity. George Floyd was made in the image of God. George Floyd was a person of utmost value. As Christians we know this to be true:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27)
What happened to George Floyd on the 25th May was an outrage because those arresting him failed to see the image of God in him. He was denied the very thing that made him human.
Trinity Sunday tells us that the God we have come to know in Jesus Christ is diverse. Therefore, if we are made in his image, we were made to be diverse too. If God was simply one, then there would be no need to create male and female. But because God is a loving union of three, we witness the need for him to create difference. This difference goes beyond gender too. Wherever we are from, whatever we look like, whatever our preferences, however we are wired: we are all image-bearers of the divine. St Paul knew this to be true and raised the bar for Christians when he wrote,
“ As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:27-28)
Our goal as the church is to be reconciled to Jesus Christ and to each other through the blood shed on the cross. In all our diversity, in all our difference, we are called to treat every human being we encounter with the dignity and respect we afford our Christian sisters and brothers. Every person is your neighbour.
What we have seen in the protests and marches around the world, particularly in America, is not just about the death of one man. It is about the centuries of systematic oppression that the black community have had to endure. It is about white power and privilege, it is about ignoring the divine image in black people, it is about the repeated deaths of black people at the hands of the police and it’s about white citizens who get twitchy trigger fingers when they see a black person in their neighbourhood. It’s about racism. And it’s evil.
There have been times this week when I have felt anger and times when I have felt despair and at a loss of what to say or do. What good will the words of another white man add to this situation? What I am learning though, in the actions of the activists and protestors, is that I cannot remain silent. Nobody should remain silent about racism otherwise they are complicit in allowing it to continue. Discrimination must be challenged wherever we come across it and I am sorry for the times I have been silent and complicit because of fear and ignorance. What the last week has highlighted (and indeed the Coronavirus pandemic) is that when some of us suffer, all of us suffer. Humanity is supposed to be united – we are all part of the one body of Christ. When the leg is broken, the whole body is affected.
Please will you join me and prioritise your prayers over this week for those in our world facing racism and injustice? Alice and I will be continuing to lead Morning Prayer at 9 am on weekday mornings on the Facebook page. If you cannot join us online, the invitation is still to pray at the same time as us if possible.
Over the week, as I have been reflecting, I have come across some very helpful content in helping me understand how many members of the black community across the world are feeling. Here is a link to a spectacular performance by the British rapper Dave from this year's Brit Awards back in February. It's well worth your time although it might make you cry:
Another video I found helpful was this one called, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man" in which Emmanuel Acho does an excellent job of communicating clearly in a complex situation:
This Sunday's Eucharist will be streamed live on the Facebook page here.
Here's the service book:
The pew-sheet can be found here:
Finally, I’d like to share these words from Psalm 8 with you. They are a beautiful reminder that humanity is precious to God, despite what we do to each other.
“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.” (Psalm 8:3-5)
With every blessing,