There’s such division in British politics right now. One Nation Tories have been side-lined or pushed out by the right-wing. Labour’s social democratic wing, which seeks to appeal to the middle ground of the generally moderate electorate, is fighting the socialists and vice-versa.
I don’t think there’s ever been a stronger case for proportional representation than the current situation, with a wide range of political parties. Two-party politics seems broken, with opinions sharply divided. In the meantime, ordinary people just want to get on with their lives with a reasonable standard of living, the means to put food on the table, pay their bills, and get health care when they need it. Not to mention a safe future for their children and grandchildren.
The second Sunday in July is traditionally Sea Sunday, if you’d like a devotional with this theme you can click here. Otherwise, I’m focussing on today’s Lectionary Bible readings that centre on social justice and equality.
Amos 7:7-17 stresses the importance being upright, straight, and true: Look, I am setting a plumb-line among my people.
Psalm 82 is a challenge to social justice: ‘How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
Colossians 1:1-14 is a wide ranging passage, but urges God’s people to bear fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God.
The final reading is Luke 10:25-37: The Good Samaritan. The truth about this parable of Jesus is that the Samaritans were hated by the Jews at the time.
So in a lovely twist, Jesus makes the Samaritan the hero of the story to show the religious leaders that he just did naturally what they found excuses not to do. Hate is a dangerous thing.
We help people because it’s basic to our humanity, it’s the right thing to do. This we can agree with humanists, agnostics and atheists. Indeed, they often say their motives are purer than ours.
As Christians, we also help people because God demonstrated his love for humanity through Jesus. Jesus cared for people, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – in other words, Christians need to be like Jesus, simple.
Who are those who are ‘hated’ today? Who are those who are looked down on and despised? Who are the marginalised people? What do we think about immigrants? Who are excluded by the church? What is our attitude to LGBTQ+ people? How do we treat those who are not ‘like’ us?
God’s love is for all, it’s boundless. Human love should reach across our self-imposed discrimination and prejudice. How will this affect the way you respond to others this week?
The Sunday headline act closing Glastonbury 2022 was the rapper Kenrick Lamar, and it was a hard-hitting, confessional, and introspective performance. My preference for the evening was the Pet Shop Boys on The Other Stage, but I’ll catch up with Lamar later (even though I do struggle to appreciate rap).
He wore a crown of thorns throughout his Glastonbury headline set with blood pouring down his face during the final song, two very powerful Christians symbols of servanthood, sacrifice, and salvation. This was an immensely powerful theatrical performance unlike anything the festival has ever witnessed.
Throughout the show, he addressed themes of guilt, greed, loyalty, power, ambition and prejudice, shouldering the audience’s problems by examining his own, with dancers reflecting his internal and external struggles. He also addressed issues within society along with his own flaws, juxtaposed with his faith in Christ.
Lamar believes that “imperfection is beautiful”, and that in our rush to judgment, we often lose sight of others’ humanity.
In some ways, Lamar’s thorny and introspective songs made him a brave choice to headline Glastonbury’s main stage. But in the event he rose to the challenge, delivering a visceral and compelling set that will be talked about for weeks.Source
Seeing snippets of his performance and reading about it, the following Bible verses came to mind: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.1 John 1:5-10
There is so much to think about in both his performance and this Bible reading. We are all beautiful in our imperfection, we can all reflect on our lives, and we can all be better human beings. For me, my Christian faith plays a huge part in being the best I can be.
Note: For the first time since my retirement in July 2020 I failed to publish a Sunday devotional on the day itself. So, this is a Sunday devotional on a Monday, but it gave me the opportunity to share something topical. I’m OK with that.
“There’s nothing we can do to stop mass shootings”, says the only country in the world that suffers frequent and regular mass shootings.
Why, oh why, are so many Americans totally unwilling to accept the blindingly obvious truth that they have a gun problem? A blasphemous slaughter of innocents comparable with that of Herod. An obscenity that is heartbreakingly recognised by millions of compassionate Americans and the rest of the world. I’m sick of all the Republican and gun lobby ‘thoughts and prayers’ with their specious reasoning, while the rest of us dread the inevitability of the next slaughter and the constant traumatising of children with shooter drills. Jesus weeps!
America: You can’t worship God and guns. Repent of your obscene gun idolatry. It’s blasphemous, nauseating, and heartbreaking!
‘Woke’ has become a Marmite word, you either love it or hate it, embrace it or use it to insult.
It’s a word weapon in phoney political and cancel culture wars. It divides people and groups, yet it’s a word that speaks of thoughtfulness and empathy. A word to unite sadly divides.
So, before you use the word ‘woke’ in a pejorative sense, remember Jesus would probably be considered ‘woke’ today!
Jesus was thoughtful and empathic towards others. I follow Jesus and try to treat others thoughtfully and emphatically; be they white, black, male, female, straight, gay, transsexual, or whatever. That’s not something to be criticised using the word ‘woke’.
Jesus championed the disadvantaged and marginalised, and I try to do the same, because it’s the right thing to do as a human being, but also as a Christian. For me, it’s a double imperative, humanity and Christianity.
Let’s embrace the word and seek to understand others, helping to bring compassion and unity.
As a passionate European, I’d be grateful if Brexit voters could answer three questions:
Can you explain to my three young children why they no longer have the freedom to live, find love, study, work, and retire in the EU because of Brexit? The first four of which were enjoyed by my grown-up daughter in Italy.
Can you explain what the UK government is doing to support long-established British businesses and farmers who are going out of business because they no longer have easy and economic access to their markets in the EU?
Do you think the promised £350m/week to the NHS (instead of giving it to the EU) was a lie? If not, please help me to understand how the NHS is benefiting from the extra money.
‘Hey Hey Rise Up’, released in support of the people of Ukraine, sees David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined by long time Pink Floyd bass player Guy Pratt and Nitin Sawhney on keyboards, all accompanying an extraordinary vocal by Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Ukrainian band Boombox. All proceeds go to Ukrainian Humanitarian Relief.
The first thing I wanted to do was write some music that would respond in my own way. I hope the meaning of the text will resonate in people’s hearts and reach out to the people of Ukraine in their hour of need. JR