Pause for Thought – 10 June 2020

Pause for Thought is available to watch here:

The text is also available:

Perhaps you saw the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol? I’m one of those people who instinctively finds actions like that very difficult. Here’s a short video what happened.

My first reaction is to question who gets to decide which thing that a lot of people are driven to be livid about excuses mob rule and which doesn’t? I suspect that I’m not the only person to find this kind of mob rule quite a terrifying idea.

But after that acute additional stab of outrage, I wonder how it must feel to those who have been, and continue to be, on the end of racism for so long, and that on top of a lifetime of hurt? Racism is an utterly, despicably, wicked act, and so is any system which allows it. If toppling a statue of someone who did a lot of bad things becomes the vent for the built up pressure, then my reaction turns to say, “fair enough”. Toppling the statue probably shouldn’t have happened in theory, but I’m having a hard time getting too upset about it because it should have come down a long long time ago. Sometimes we need something sudden, extraordinary, and dramatic to focus attention on a chronic issue that too many of us try to ignore too much.

Jesus taught us that we should love another, but what we’ve been seeing in our world is very far from that. Everyone that I’ve spoken to feels outrage and deep sorrow at the murder of George Floyd, but are outrage and sorrow enough response to racism and inequality in society?

Are we silent when we could speak out against the everyday injustices that affect Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities? Despite our efforts, have our churches really done enough for those who feel excluded, or could we do better? Have we listened carefully enough and not challenged the assumptions of white privilege and bias? If we don’t need to teach our children how to respond to a police request to stop and search, because we don’t think it will happen to them, that’s already white privilege.

The challenge for us is how to embody a gracious, loving, spirit of inclusion and understanding. There is no excuse for racism. All people are made in God’s image. We are one body in Christ Jesus.

I hope that as churches, as a nation, as a world, we can listen more carefully to the voices of BAME people, especially younger people, who face racism, discrimination and violence on a daily basis. Then we must be brave, speak out, speak up, and challenge racism wherever we find it, especially when we find it in ourselves. Black lives matter.

Will you pray with me?
God-of-righteous-dreaming, give us an enlarged imagination to dream new possibilities, to imagine a world where transformation will happen, where creation is mended and restored, and where exiles and strangers can find a home and live in peace. Give us overflowing and extravagant hearts so that our whole lives may be full of and mirror your dream and promise of goodness and abundance.

God-who-walks-with-us, ahead, beside, behind, above, below and around us, you who journey with wandering and displaced people: clear our eyes to see you in the many displaced sisters and brothers at our borders, gates and doors; give us just minds and confident hearts to protest, challenge, and partner with others to turn hard, callous and inhumane policies into habits of generosity, compassion and welcome at our gates; and through your Spirit strengthen our resolve to work towards a new world where all can share in full and flourishing life. Amen.

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