The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead
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Worship Together Online      21st June 2020
Walk in the Light
Ayla Lepine

It is the solstice. There is joy in long hours of sunlight. There is melancholy too. From these days onwards our daylight incrementally lessens. This summer is especially strange, as weather determines if we can meet each other in person outside. The light has different meaning now.
It is Fathers’ Day. We celebrate all fathers, god-fathers, foster-fathers and adopted fathers, gay fathers, straight fathers, grandfathers, trans fathers, every father. It is a hard day for many too, and we pray for those whose broken and damaged relationships with their fathers are in need of healing.
Friday and Saturday were the Feast days of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their hearts, broken and restored, burn with God’s love for every human being, as the One who comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.
On Monday it is Windrush Day. The Church invites us to celebrate the Windrush generation, who arrived in Britain between 1948 and 1971. It’s a joy to celebrate the contributions and gifts of these strong and courageous people. However, the Windrush scandal is real and dehumanising. Black people have been subject to racial injustice, rejection and prejudice within the Church too, personally and institutionally. That continues. I pray that throughout the Church the joy of celebration will not paper over the gaping cracks of racism.
Jesus assures us that there is nothing that the world and its distorted abuses of power can do to take away the truth of God’s justice. What is said in the dark must be brought into the light. The truth will set us free. Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid, even when the commitment to following Christ becomes painful and dangerous. God knows every hair on each person’s head and cherishes each life.
Jesus says he comes not to bring peace, but a sword. This is not the sword of war. It’s a sword of liberation, that pierces our hearts and leads us to hard truths. A white man who came to the Black Lives Matter protests in London brought a sign that read ‘racism is a virus. We are the vaccine.’ Recognising that change is within, and that repentance can be risky, painful, and divisive – that’s the sword Jesus speaks about. Over 1600 years ago, St John Chrysostom wrote ‘This more than anything else is peace: when the disease is removed…Only with such radical surgery is it possible for heaven to be reunited with earth.’ The sword is more like a scalpel, cutting away that which is damaged so that real healing happens.
When justice flows, then peace will come. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr wrote that black people were done with waiting politely for change. Disappointed with white clergy who said they weren’t racist but supported the status quo, King said ‘We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.’ His words resonate with Jeremiah’s, when he said he could no longer hold the fire of God’s prophetic truth in his bones, and had to speak out. It’s time to work on becoming anti-racist. Our Christian values and resources can be used creatively because we know a better world is possible. Because, as Jesus tells us, it is in losing our life that we will find it. It’s time, if we dare, to walk in the light. Amen.

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