A thing I need to say…
There’s a drawback to producing our weekly on-line services as we do. We really want to include contributions from different people, and some hymns with the words on screen, so we pre-record the various bits in advance so they can be edited together. I think the services work really well, and I’m not for a moment suggesting we should do it differently.
But it means there’s a week’s delay between me recording a sermon and then it being ‘screened’. The result is that I shy away from addressing things which are in the news, fearing events will have moved on and what I might say would be woefully out of date by the time you see it.
And so there’s a matter I feel I need to address …
This last week or so the news has been dominated the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white policeman while others looked on and did nothing – and by the response to it. George Floyd’s death was a tragedy, but sadly it’s only the tip of a very deep iceberg.
There has been a long list of similar deaths, but the problem goes much deeper than that. The lot of black Americans may have improved when we look back to the days of slavery – but they are treated by many as being far from equal. The evidence is clear in the disparity between black and white on income levels, court sentencing rates, and so on.
The response has been mass demonstrations across the USA. For a couple of nights these boiled over into rioting and looting. But most of these mass gatherings have been peaceful in nature. They are a recognition of the truth that there is a deep wrong in American society which needs to be put right. Maybe, just maybe, the time has come when it will happen – though I’m not holding my breath.
We need to recognise that, whilst it’s not as extreme as in the USA, a similar problem exists in our own country. I look back to my childhood in a northern town where I regularly heard abuse directed at people of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani descent. I look to the treatment of the Windrush generation – even in the threatened deportations of today.
We believe we are all God’s children, all beloved of God. We believe that God calls us to treat all people equally. We believe God calls us to include people of whatever ethnicity as full and equal members of our church – and of our society.
This isn’t about politics – it’s about religious belief. I may not have said it in a sermon in the last week or two, but I want to say it quite clearly here … black lives matter. It shouldn’t even need saying. It’s the teaching of the gospel which we proclaim, and the justice it expects.