I don’t come to bring peace but a sword
Monday is Windrush Day. It comes at the end of a week where, as a formal representative of the Church of England, I feel frustrated, distraught and saddened. You may have seen in the press the story of Augustine Tanner-Ihm an Black American ordinand training in Durham to be a priest in this country. And the appalling letter he received from a diocese not far from here telling him that he wouldn’t be suitable for a specific post because the parish was too white. We all like to see racism in the United States, or in another institution, and believe we are right-on, we don’t have a problem, we aren’t racist. But the reality is that racism is so pernicious a sin, so invasive, that we must constantly undergo self-examination, and be willing to stand up and acknowledge its presence.
Our Christian faith calls us to be forensic in our own self-examination. We hear in today’s readings, both from Jeremiah and from Paul, in his letter to the Romans, about the challenge put upon us by God. Jeremiah is driven to examine himself and his community, to stand up and to call out systematic, institutional sin. He feels distraught by the weight of this calling, he knows he will be mocked but he also knows that he is not alone, that God is with him, standing up for the needy.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans he reminds us that in baptism, we die with Christ to sin. That doesn’t mean we never sin, or never make mistakes, or that we are never tempted – of course we are. But that sin does not have a hold over us, ultimately Christ has dealt with it, we are resurrected with him, to walk in newness of life. But that demands we take up the challenge of living that life, constantly challenging ourselves to walk with Christ. Devoted to God in everything we do.
Jesus holds no punches as he explains the cost of following him in this morning’s Gospel. Jesus knows that his followers, like Jeremiah will be mocked and ridiculed, but tells them to proclaim the Good News all the louder. If you think that just means being nice to people – Jesus has harsh words for you this morning. Jesus is peace, but he knows that the challenge of truly following Christ, of truly dealing with our sins, like racism, truly loving God above all others, even our own parents, and our own children, will divide us and challenge us. But, as hard as this calling is, Jesus reassures us three times not to be afraid, because he will be with us always, because whatever others try to do to us, we know that nothing in heaven and earth can separate us from the Love of God.
So take up your cross, examine yourselves, but have no fear, for with Christ you have died to sin and risen with him.
The Reverend Robin Sims-Williams
8.00am Morning Prayer in the lady chapel
10.00am Parish Eucharist with choir and Sunday School
Christian Meditation Wednesdays at 9.10am
Said Eucharist on Wednesdays at 11.00am
Monday through Thursday at 5.30pm
Please note that Public worship has been suspended, you can therefore participate in these services via Facebook live stream
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I was struck by the favourite movies people sent in for this week’s newsletter.