Posted in Letter
Over the last couple of weeks our national news, quite rightly, has been, dominated with the dreadful killing of George Floyd and the subsequent outpouring of anger and protest.
Incidents similar to this have happened in the past and people have demanded that ‘things must change’ but little seemed to do so, but now there seems a greater momentum; is this the time when it is no longer possible to ignore racism? Just as the ‘me too’ movement took on issues of sexual exploitation of women and before that the drive to address child sexual abuse uncovered the shockingly secret lives of some celebrities.
We cannot ignore the history of our nation: our involvement in the abominable slave trade and oppression of other peoples, through our colonial history. We have much as a nation that needs to be accepted and addressed. It is no longer possible or acceptable to ignore where much of the wealth of our nation in past centuries came from. Or the voices of people who have suffered prejudice and reduced opportunity because of their colour and heritage.
And we must not think this is a historic matter, slavery continues to be an issue. We hear of human trafficking gangs who prey on vulnerable people and exploit them. Across the world, and in this country, people work as slaves or in extremely poor conditions.
The Bible has a lot to say about this. During this week I have been reading and meditating on Isaiah 58. I recommend you read the whole chapter, it makes for difficult reading. The Jewish people were being condemned by God for their unjust ways, while they were acting in this way they shouldn’t expect God to hear their prayers and answer them. He calls them to change their ways:
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
We are each answerable to God for our personal deeds and our Church Fellowship. Responsible to Him to ask where we fall short in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Where we fail to love our neighbour as ourselves. Fail to consider whether the food and goods we buy are produced fairly. Fail to ask God how He would like us to use the financial resources, gifts, and time He has given to us. Is he asking us to get involved at a national or international level? Writing to our MPs, committing to pray into situations? There is something which the Lord is asking each one of us to do. Don’t feel guilty about something that He isn’t but do allow Him to show you what is on His heart for you to do.
The whole country is facing a time of change like nothing seen before. It is our human nature to want to get through coronavirus and back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible. But for Emmaus what does that mean? Do we really expect our small congregation to meet up again in the near future and for services to run as they did as recently as early March? Or do we think that it will still be many weeks before our more vulnerable congregation are able to move freely in the community.
It is now two years since the ending of the LEP and we continue to ask the Lord to show us the way he is calling us to go. This week the leadership team met with Martin Hayward, the Southern Synod’s Missions Officer. We had a constructive and open discussion and he has given us some good ideas to help us move forward. So over the next couple of weeks the leadership team will be drawing on the guidance the Lord has been giving us over the last few years as to what His plans for the Emmaus Christian Centre are. These will be refined into a plan which will help us identify our priorities and timeframe. As we develop these ideas we will be sharing them with you and continuing to invite you to let us know what the Lord is saying to you. We will talk further with the URC to see what resources they can help us with.
From Monday we will be able to open the church up for private prayer and it is our plan to do so. Graham will put more of that in the covering email. Even if you aren’t able to come to church to pray please do pray at home and if the Lord is speaking to you for the fellowship please share it with a member of the leadership team.
As Isaiah chapter 58 draws to a conclusion there is a positive note, but please note this promise is conditional on the people walking in the way the Lord is commanding:
then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Graham and Katy Hill, Local Church Leaders