Weekly Insight (6) – Racial Justice Sunday

This week Churches Together in Britain and Ireland are holding “Racial Justice” Sunday’s as a church we will be using the resources and educating ourselves. One of the problems we face in Britain is education. Many will ask why we are holding a “racial justice” Sunday well it is so that we can spotlight the biblical importance of such issues. The bible has been used throughout history to oppress and put down. Yet, when I read the gospel’s I read a gospel of love. When I read the writings of Paul I read the letters of a man who cared about justice and wanted to encourage others to follow the cross of Christ. As we are challenged this Sunday. As we become uncomfortable with what is said and the prayers we pray we need to see that as a good thing. We need to become uncomfortable so that we can enact change. This weeks blog suggests some of the things you could read/listen too if you feel uncomfortable and want to know more. These recourses will help you move from conversation to action.

Something to read

There are so many good books that you could read. These books will make most of us become uncomfortable but they have changed my perspectives. More than changing my perspectives however they also gave me the resources to speak out. They showed my “blind” sides and helped me become familiar with the problems our society faced.

Reni Edo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race . This is a real uncomfortable read for a white person as it challenges our unconscious bias and makes us think more deeply about the things we say and actions we take.

James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. This book explores the spiritual world of African Americans in 20th century America. Drawing on some of the most violent acts of racism Cone is able to tie together both hope and terror through the lens of the Cross. This is a powerful read especially as we move through lent towards the cross.

Something to Listen too

This week I am going to once again recommend a podcast. Podcast’s are some of the easiest ways to educate yourselves on specific issues, especially now that we have time on our hands. In the Unlocking Us Series by Brene Brown Brene has a conversation with Emmanuel Acho. Emmanuel talks about his experiences as a black person and explains why he wrote the book “Uncomfortable conversations with a Black Man”. One thing that struck me in the conversation was when Emmanuel said that “true allyship moves from conversation to action.” As we pray and worship this week why not ask God to help move us from conversation to action this week.

I also took time to watch the BBC programme Anthony. The story of Anthony Walker, who was killed by two white men in 2005, demonstrates that racism is not some distant issue but that it is closer than we think and has an affect on all of our communities.

An important idea

In here podcast Brene Brown says that there can be “no courage without vulnerability.” Racism can be a difficult issue to speak out against as white people because we can fear that we say the wrong thing, or that can be seen to not have compassion. That attitude however is just as bad as racism for it silences the conversation. As Norbury Church prays and worships this week we will ask God to come and change the narrative. We will ask God to come and transform our community by His grace so that justice will roar through this land. Sometimes it can feel like our voices are not loud enough, or not bold enough. Yet, as we learn, speak and act, we can have a great influence on our friends, our families, and our communities. If we join our voices together we will be able to affect more change than we ever could alone. If we partner with God we can do the impossible. We can see God’s kingdom come and change the earth. That is why we join with God this Sunday and ask that God’s love overpower all the earth and we proclaim together that all lives are important. That black lives matter to us!

Musings of a Cathedral Mouse: A place of Welcome

This week I began to experience my first taste of Cathedral life at Chester Cathedral and I thought I would keep a sporadic blog to reflect on some of the experiences and to look back at later and ponder what God was up to at the time.

The first thing I want to reflect upon, sat drinking a steaming cup of coffee having completed my first full week of Cathedral life is how welcome I have been made to feel. The welcome has been wonderful, people have spent time with me (answering no end of questions), let me follow them and watch what they do and make me cups of tea when I have needed.

But I am not the only one. Every pilgrim who ventured through the doors seemed to be welcomed with a smile. Whether they be a tourist looking for an “experience”, I thoroughly recommend climbing the 246 steps to the top of the tower, or the person who wants to come and light a candle and pray. Everyone was welcomed with sensitivity and a smile. Chester Cathedral tries to go out of its way to welcome you, whether you be HRH Princess Ann to the person who refused to give his name but wanted to talk, we try to be a place of Welcome.

This may not sound like much but in the midst of a busy city I think it is important to be a place of warmth and welcome. Each morning the day begins with morning prayer. Gathered in a small chapel, around a single candle flame, we welcome the day with its unpredictability and thank God for those who we will encounter. But I will cover prayer later!

For now I end with this..

Whiskers twitching,

Nose sniffing,

There’s something in the air.

Not bread, not cheese,

Nor incensed steam,

But some form of deeper joy.

As the doors creak open,

Something is awoken,

A welcome beyond word or prayer,

A smile,

A nod,

A welcome that offers care,

A welcome that needs to be shared.

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