Welcome to this morning's Come Together on Sunday Worship service led by Martin Sykes and Rev Arlington Trotman (in church and via Zoom).
Please note that this is the last service that will be accompanied by a live Zoom. Recordings of services will still be available here each Monday morning.
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Below you can find this weeks Message. Click here to find the whole worship sheet.
Please note there is an updated version of Arlington's sermon in the worship sheet folder
Click the link just above to view it.
Theme: Gathering everyone (Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race)
Good morning to everyone! I count it a special privilege to be able to join you
and be welcomed to your pulpit. Thank you, Martin, and all the team for your
invitation and warm welcome.
As I thought about your theme for today, “Gathering Everyone (Diverse in
Culture, Nation, Race),” two challenges immediately struck me. One, I was
encouraged enormously to see that you have been responding to the call of
JDS, to do justly, on this issue of vital unity of black, white, and Asian peoples
on which your commitment remains a bright light.
The other, you will find that the use of language sometimes can completely
contradict what we are trying to achieve: the word ‘race’ has long been questioned
in this context but is now being more stoutly discouraged as we
become more enlightened. Rather, the appeal of ‘ethnicity’ appears much
more certain term because it has a biblical usage, and implies inclusivity, with
a scientific reference.
I’d like to share briefly my first experience of ethnicity (worshipping in a UK
Church for the first time and was asked not to return). I address your theme by
an exposition of three passages of Scripture, though I reference few more,
under the sub-theme:
Ethnicity, the Mission of God
First, I call your attention to what the Bible say about our subject ethnicity.
God’s character and care
a) In all human relations, Isaiah wishes his audience to hear something about
where the foundation for restoration from challenging times. The chosen
servant immediately reveals the character of God, gentleness, justice,
encouragement, truth. When you are broken and burnt out trying for
restoration, the sovereign God will raise you up. It is the attribute of LOVE is
the vital source of restoration and recovery.
b) regarded as the Servant Song, these verses tell us that the Servant
Messiah and God’s servant, Israel, was to help bring the world to a knowledge
of God. The Messiah would ultimately fulfil this task, and in so doing, reveal
God to the world. It is interesting to note the language used here, “world.”
“Nations” (One’s own, a people) seems the preferred term. Hence the hymn,
In Christ, there is neither East nor West.
When it is dark, provide light,
when people are distressed, talk to them softly, when
you see injustice, speak out;
when people are discriminated against,
When your neighbour is suffering,
When all around you, indifference reigns, stand out.
Live, love, support, demonstrate.
Be a maker of peace.
(And so, I will be a maker of peace).
Second, Luke sets out in the Acts how the Holy Spirit was received and by
whom at the commencement of the Christian Church.
a) All gathered in Jerusalem: Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, people from
Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and
Pamphylia, Egypt and part of Libya, visitors from Rome and Cretans and
Arabs. Later the Ethiopian was baptised (Acts 8:26-40).
b) from every nation, they heard the message from God by the descent of the
Holy Spirit, miraculously in their own language. So astounding was this
experience, some thought others were drunk!
c) after Peter’s detailed and convincing address, confidently explaining the
message from God,
d) they asked, “Brothers what shall we do?” “Repent, be baptised in Jesus’
name, receive forgiveness from your sins: you, your children, those afar.”
1 God’s action in Christian being, working, worshipping
a) we are constrained to address and combat racism and ethnic exclusion
wherever we meet it.
b) research shows that ethnically based exclusion continues to divide Church
and society. Such bias is likely to have taken root in the historical social
conditioning of both black and white people, to accept and adapt to forms of
exclusion and discrimination treating these as “norms” in life. The Church is a
vital force for challenging inequalities among people of all nations, who suffer
in Church and society. MLK once famously said: the most segregated hour is
11 o’clock on Sunday morning, in America. I fear that is also true of our church
and community, but the signs of change are emerging, for Methodist as for
others, hopefully lastingly: see the JDS; David’s Olusoga’s excellent book,
Black Britain, A forgotten History.
c) British history is forever tied to history of black and brown people - African,
Caribbean, Black British, Asian, or Asian British, Central or Eastern
Europeans, Jews, indigenous peoples, particularly living in multi-ethnic, multicultural,
and religiously diverse United Kingdom.
d) We must together strive against the appalling silence, and join the call for
justice for the nations, working together. Dr King once said: “The world is our
neighbourhood.” John Wesley noted: “The world is my parish...wherever I
happen to be in the world, across the nations, it is my duty to speak to
whoever would listen.
e) “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a
part of the main. Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in
mankind” (John Donne). Africa says Ubuntu, “I am because you are!”
f) 2 Corinthians 8:13-14 reminds: Our desire is not that others might be
relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. (Isotēs,
Greek), translated “equality” or “akin to” or “fairness.”
g) note that some biblical texts have been abused: Genesis 9:18-27. Some
church groups have interpreted this to justify black enslavement, claiming that
black people’s enslavement was a fulfilment of this prophecy – the word Ham
means black, or burnt, and they said this refers to black people; and that God
commanded black descendants of Ham to be slaves to Japheth, whom they
say is white!
We carry the mission of God
a) Matthew’s appeal to his community of Jews is a call to carry the message
of God, this time, not only to the Jews. Previous missions of Jesus were sent
only to the Jews. Now Jesus leaves the disciples the last word: teach and
baptise the entire world, the nations. He died for the sins of the nations.
b) we have been given authority to carry the Good News, restore dignity and
humanity; heal, and be reconciled with those from the nations who have been
wronged. It is significant that Prince Charles this week acknowledged what he
calls the “appalling atrocity of slavery” of enslaving Barbadians, something, he
said “which forever stains our history.”
c) justice, or righteousness, that is, the act of “being right,” or “doing the right”
thing, understood as such in Greek - the main original language of the New
Testament - by the word, dikaios is central to God’s divine creative act.
d) the coming of the Messiah which reveals the character of God to all nations
provides the blood that can wipe away the stain.
e) that great multitude of which John in the Apocalypse speaks, from every
nation tribe, people, and language, at the end of human history is ethnically
diverse and fully accepted by God. It could be the 144 000 mentioned just
prior or indeed the martyrs described at 6:9. Whatever, God includes, protects,
and guarantees each of the faithful a new heaven and new earth (Revelation
7:9-10). None were selected because of ethnicity, whether black, white, or
Asian. Only our faithfulness to God in loving God and loving others as we love
ourselves completes God’s commands (Mark 12:30-31).
May God bless you!
1 Forms of racial inequality - from micro aggressions to race hate crimes -
have their roots primarily in the historic transatlantic slave trade, colonialism,
empire building, and white supremacy, to which historical scholarship attests.
Institutions have not made the content of this historical narrative accessible to
black, brown, or white people. Consequently, generations of all ethnicities have been unaware of, or disinterested in, the reasons why mainly racism and inequality continue today.