Whatever happened to the God who is against injustice?
Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield, Sunday 7th June 2020
I love my church.
My inner SJW (Social Justice Warrior) is disappointed. I think there was an opportunity missed this week. So I have waited for two hours between the end of the service to pray and let things sink in, why am I feeling disappointed? Hardly a mention of the worldwide protests against institutional racism around the world. I waited to see others would react to the service. The reaction was positive.
One said on Facebook:
“Fantastic service this morning, from Holy Trinity Huddersfield – thank you all so much. I had to listen to Val/Joe/Woody’s song again after the service as it was so beautiful.”
So just me then. Or is it? This is from a prayer request I received in the week from a black member of the congregation:
Am feeling a bit rubbish today also, hurt and unmotivated due to all the raciscts issues that are surfacing world wide, it’s getting to me.
But what I noticed was not the content of the service which was good as usual, but what was missing. We are a social justice church, contributing to and helping at the food bank, involved with Christians against Poverty, so why when no mention of the demonstrations against racism except for a short bit in the middle of the intercessions? At least George Floyd’s name was mentioned. His death is the catalyst for demonstrations from Miniapolis, to America and to the ends of the world. People in the congregation are hurting, that is why the omission is bad.
The sermon series is on “Stand.” Yet the idea of standing against injustice was missing from this service, or the series so far. The context of coronavirus was the link to living now and it was about us standing firm and being positive. I am trying to be positive here. the service was good, but inappropriate given what had happened these last two weeks.
Our citizenship is in heaven. we were told. I remembered that the kingdom of God is for all and deduced there is no racism in heaven. We were referred to the Bible verse, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things,” Philippians 4:8. OK. Standing up to injustice is all of these things, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, so that is what I shall be concentrating on this week. It isn’t nice, but the verse says nothing about nice.
But to be positive, one service today got it dead right. BBC local radio stations broadcast a service at 8 am this morning paying tribute to the last official day in office of Archbishop of York John Sentamu. His daughter Grace, herself a priest in the Church of England, straight away after the opening hymn had finished mentioned racism, George Floyd and the demonstrations then prayed a prayer asking for justice and truth. It felt like I was listening to a prophet.
That is how it is done.
As I said at the beginning, I love my church, but I think they got it wrong this time.