Last week I was thinking about rest. The importance of finding some sabbath. And that’s true, it’s important – creation isn’t complete without it, and neither are human beings. It strikes me this week that many people in our world can’t get as far as Sabbath, can’t get as far as rest, can’t get as far as peace, because of the need for healing.
We’re particularly aware of all those in need of physical healing – of medical assistance – because of coronavirus. But there are many people in need of other kinds of healing. Social healing because of loneliness. Mental healing because of anxiety, stress and uncertainty. And then there are those in our world who need to feel the effects of structural, political and economic healing.
You will not be surprised that at the forefront of my mind as I write this is the situation in the United States. Civil unrest the like of which has not been seen for a generation has gripped the country in response to the murder of George Floyd. Many people have taken to social media to show their support (and to the streets), changing their profile pictures to a black circle, or posting a black square to their timeline with the hashtag ‘black lives matter’. And many other people have responded with the hashtag ‘all lives matter’. Well, of course they do. But the whole point is that the lived experience of our brothers and sisters of colour is that their lives don’t matter. Their experience is that their lives matter less than those of white people. This isn’t a time for saying ‘oh, but we all matter’. No, the thing for those of us who are white to do now is to listen, to learn and to try to understand why our brothers and sisters of colour have that experience. And to do so in humility.
This is not to say that there aren’t other groups whose experience is that they matter less. People who have had their benefits cut or who have had to rely increasingly on foodbanks because of a decade of austerity. Poor communities in the developing world who are most adversely affected by climate change and least able to mitigate its effects.
And there are the people whose mental health traps them in feelings that they don’t matter, that they are not good enough, that they are invisible. According to one survey nearly half of UK adults have suffered anxiety problems because of the coronavirus pandemic: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-uk-population-anxiety-mental-health-lockdown-ons-a9468331.html
What all these people are created for is peace, rest and Sabbath. But in order for them to know that peace, some healing needs to go on. For our brothers and sisters of colour that is the healing of justice. As it is for other groups in our world experiencing discrimination and oppression. For those adversely affected by climate change, the healing needed is climate justice. The healing the poor need is economic justice. The healing those who suffer with their mental health need most of all perhaps is to be listened to. To be really listened to.
It seems to me that being listened to might be at the heart of much of the healing that is needed in the world. God always listens. But he needs you and me to be his ears – and eyes and hands and feet. If we can have the humility to listen one another’s experiences hopefully we can be part of a solution that brings healing, justice and ultimately peace.
God promises us all healing, justice and peace in the incarnation, death and resurrection of his Son. And he asks us to carry on the work of Christ in the power of the Spirit. St Paul tells us that we have been entrusted with the work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5.16-end) – of making peace through justice, forgiveness, and love. And that’s hard work – it took the work of the cross to defeat the unjust reign of sin and death. Peace means the walls of division, oppression and injustice have to come down brick by brick. But this is the work of the Kingdom and God calls us to co-operate in it: ‘to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with our God’ (Micha 6.8).
And right now that involves us listening. #blacklivesmatter
With my love and prayers for you,
All Saints Vicarage
Feast of St Petroc Thursday 4th June 2020
It is an important time for listening to the black community, for learning about their experience, for lamenting racism, injustice and oppression, and the ways we may be complicit in that. But it is also a great time of hope. The Christian perspective is that there is one humanity, made in the image of God and that in the kingdom the Church claims to anticipate there is no division or discrimination. And that perfect peace and unity comes with perfect justice. These resources are offered as starting points to listen and learn, so that we can stand together to bring that kingdom vision closer.
This Sunday at All Saints
9.30am Video Eucharist. Head to our online services page to join in, to find the order of service and for more resources.
10.30am Zoom coffee and catch up, invite via our mailing list. (To join the mailing list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org)