12th June 2020
What can I possibly say about the appalling and unacceptable murder of George Floyd? I don’t know enough about racism, or about the United States, or about how their police works. At the same time, I can’t say enough; there’s just too much to say. And anything I do say will be inadequate, and probably wrong in some way. Meanwhile, others have said it better than I can.
And I’ve not experienced racism. I don’t know what it’s like to be looked at, or treated differently, because of the colour of my skin, or to be made a spokesperson for my race. I’ve so much to learn about all these things. But I can’t say nothing. Especially when there’s any suggestion that the Bible might condone racism. As when President Trump appears outside a church holding up a Bible.
So, does the Bible condone racism? Emphatically, no! The Bible says that in the beginning God made all the nations from one man and one woman. Each one of us is a son of Adam or a daughter of Eve. Then sin entered the world, and with it hatred and violence, not only between nations and races, but certainly including them. And so God himself came among us, to make peace. The cross points in two directions: Jesus came to make peace between us and God, and between us and one another, to create one new humanity, where Christ is our peace. And the Bible ends with a vision of a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne of God.
God delights in the diversity of humanity. Just as he is one God and yet three persons, so human beings made in his image are one and yet many. Of course, God doesn’t approve of all diversity: the worship of other gods, for instance, or certain sinful behaviours. But he rejoices in racial diversity, and so should we. We’re blessed with having more than twenty nationalities at St Stephen’s and St Wulstan’s. I won’t try and list you all, in case I’ve forgotten some! At the same time, I realise how easy it is to stay within our cultural groups. And I’m conscious that, as part of the white majority, and especially as a church leader, I have a responsibility to listen to others. Please help me to do that.
We need to listen, and we need to pray. For those who’ve experienced racial injustice, Lord, grant them the comfort of knowing that you both see and care, and the hope of knowing that there is a day of justice coming. For those of us who’ve ignored, or even been complicit in, such injustice, Lord, grant us repentance and forgiveness, so that our hearts may be more aligned with yours, and your love for your world. Amen. As I read those words again, I know they’re inadequate. I’m sure they’re awry in some way. But I can’t say nothing.