Take the Knee

GCB kneeling

The Bible tells us that God hates all forms of oppression, prejudice, and injustice. It also depicts the day when people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and ethnicity will gather in heaven before the throne of God, united in praise. As a pastor, I aspire to the magnificent and rich cultural inclusivity of the heavenly church.

If we want an image that proves that heaven is not a place on earth, surely there is none as sobering as that of a white policeman kneeling for more than eight minutes on the neck of a black man.  The video footage, widely available online, shows George Floyd pleading for his life before becoming unconscious, and then suffocating to death. The officer shows no concern, the pleas of onlookers are ignored. It is an act of shocking brutality with the undeniable overtones of racism.

I have no doubt that this is a seminal moment in the battle against racism and that positive change will come. But let’s be clear, racism will not be eradicated. All of us who sense a duty to speak up against racism (and I hope that is all of us) are signing up for a lifelong effort.

Despite the depiction of Jesus, in many western cultures, as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man, He was of course a person of colour. And our longing for justice, equality, reconciliation and freedom from the consequences of sin will only be fully satisfied in Him. The diversity of heaven in the future is built upon His unjust crucifixion in the past.

Taking a knee has become the symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement. Bowing the knee is also a posture of prayer before God. So, in unity with the victims of oppression, and in dependence upon the God of every nation, let each of us eagerly take a knee.

Michael

GCB kneeling

Rhythm

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about ‘rhythm’. 

This is partly because the online work-outs that we’re all suddenly doing are proving that I don’t really have any. But also, because one of the hardest things about lockdown for me is that it is interrupting all of my rhythms of life.

We might be more used to talking about ‘routines’, or in moments of dissatisfaction, ‘ruts’. But I think rhythm is more accurate. We each have a rhythm of life, generally speaking it keeps time over what we do, when we do it, sometimes even how we do it.  Of course, those rhythms can be unhealthy, as with everything we do. But they are rhythms nonetheless. 

The Bible speaks about these rhythms as being inherent in all of creation, not just in human beings. The seasons, the winds, the tides, the rising and the falling of the sun. Everything happens in its time.

As humans we are now having to learn to develop new rhythms. The familiar ones have been interrupted, and we suddenly find ourselves out-of-step. As church we are developing and learning new rhythms to keep us together as a community of believers who cannot meet together for a time.

But in the natural world, the rhythms of nature are almost entirely unaffected. The blossom hasn’t heard of Covid-19, so it still covers the trees. The daffodils are not on lockdown! Spring is springing. Winter is fading. The rhythms beat on.

I find that really comforting. Because whilst my little world is rocked, and I’ve temporarily lost my rhythm, the rhythm of the big wide world beats on.

The older people among us will remember Grace Jones singing a terrible song in the 80’s called ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. It was about the daily grind, the repetitiveness of just keeping the show on the road.

Jesus’s words in Matthew 11 urged people away from slavery, and into freedom. He urged us to look to Him for a healthy rhythm in life:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

(Matt 11.28-30; The Message Translation)

Maybe when all this is over, we’ll have found freedom from the unhealthy rhythms we were enslaved to.  Perhaps in Jesus we’ll have shaped new rhythms of grace, more in step with the Lord of all creation, whose rhythms surround us every day.

We continue meeting as a congregation but due to the current circumstances we are now meeting online!

To join us at 4pm on a Sunday please click on the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXX16BoV4wOzXIowbaCLiQw