As I write, division and uncertainty are the news headlines.
Division and injustice as thrown into sharp relief by the tragic death of George Floyd in the United States. The latest in a litany of deaths that highlight the deep, ingrained prejudice in Western culture. Uncertainty as we look to emerge safely from the many weeks of lockdown.
As a boy and young man living in a hugely multicultural area of Birmingham in the 80s, I was acutely aware of the many ways that prejudice permeated my city – from the response of white neighbours to my non-white friends, to the fraught tightrope of interracial relationships, to the unquestioning perception amongst my peers (and myself at the time) that the police and authorities, did not represent and so were not part of, the world we saw around us. But at the time, I believed we were at a cusp of change. In a world where your friends reflect so many skin tones, nations, religions and cultures, how can racism, indeed any “-ism” survive?
Unfortunately, recent events home and abroad, have demonstrated that it takes little for the old fears and bigotries to come to the fore. Though, from my privileged position, I may feel strides forward have been made in the intervening 40 years, for many, the change is tragically slow or no real change at all.
Of course, all of this is in the context of our Coronavirus impacted world. With the uncertainty of emerging from lockdown, it’s now much harder to know how best to keep our loved ones, our community and ourselves safe while being able to shop, socialise (at distance), protest and worship. So, as I wrote this, uncertainty and division were at the front of my mind. But also as I wrote I thought of last Sunday’s CTK (Churches Together in Kidlington) Pentecostal service and the seed of hope started to appear for me.
I always find the Pentecostal service inspiring, but this year it had even more resonance. Our ability to take part in a range of worship, and in some cases meet with the church congregation, was a joy. We were separated, but thanks to the joys of technology we were able to celebrate both our differences and our shared belief.
After the service the Anglican churches in Kidlington held their regular Sunday morning virtual coffee meet up – which seems to expand each time I attend! There more opportunities opened up for fellowship, to meet new people, and share in new experiences.
Looking forward, the church continues to be vibrant and engaged. It has embraced Facebook and Zoom as tools to be used in a crisis and reached wider than anyone would have thought possible. With daily pause for prayer and worship, the churches continue to reach out and serve our community. Yes – there is more uncertainty to come, and division and injustice block our path, but through working together as a church community I have hope that we are working toward a better world. We just need to redouble our efforts in the fight to get there.