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In 1965, in Hayneville, Alabama, Jonathan Daniels, a young Episcopal Seminarian from New York, was shot dead by sheriff's deputy and construction worker Tom Coleman. He was stood between Coleman and a 17 year old girl, Ruby Sales, taking the fatal shot aimed at her. Daniels was white. Sales is black. Coleman was white.


The Episcopal Church has not always been vocal or even united against racism. During the years of settlement and into the Civil War, plenty of lay folk and clergy were slave owners. There are plenty of shameful stories which we would rather not remember, not to mention the contribution to the systematic oppression which minorities experience today.


George Floyd was not someone any of us had heard of. I do not know the exact details of the situation. I do know that he died when undue force was used to try to arrest and detain him. George Floyd was black, the police officers white. This incident follows tight on the heels of Ahmaud Arbery being killed, whilst running. Ahmaud was black, his assailants white, one of whom was a former police officer.


America is facing dark times as a surge of shame and blame, often aimed at minorities, is allowed to take hold. However strongly we might feel the flames are being fanned by Washington politics, all the more we have to work as individuals, in our communities, building trust and relationships.


As Episcopalians, we have been here before. We were and are at the leading edge of the Gay Rights and Pride movements. We were and are campaigning for migrant rights, immigration reform and the environment. Yet, the vast which majority of folk in the pews have little idea of the scope of the work the Episcopal Church is involved in. Every part of that work starts with a conversation, and all of us can converse.


I do not know how this plays out for everyone. I do know from the little time I have spent with the Boys and Girls club that young black children have, often, not been taught to hope. This is the work of the club, to build community to believe in children can achieve their dreams. Covid19 is showing the disparity between black and white starkly. The Guardian reported on May 20th that around half of those dying from Covid19 are black, a fifth white and the majority of the others are from Hispanic backgrounds.


The inequity in our society is real. There is economic, health and education inequity. Together these lead to lack of opportunity and the most devastating inequity, hope inequity. People cannot survive without hope, they simply die to being people. They find themselves devalued and, in a world where nothing makes sense, where nothing is fair, they often turn to anger or end up with worse health than their white counterparts. We are killing people, not violently as George Floyd but little by little, eroding away the hearts and hope of whole communities, our neighbors.


I will not condone violence, but I understand it. Words have run out for so many people. Words only work when someone listens, we can be that someone.


What can we do?


Speak up. We are a democracy, write to your representatives. Ask the local police force what their anti-racism training looks like. Challenge friends and neighbors who refuse to think that there is a problem.


Learn. Attend anti-racism training. Listen to all sides of the story, even the ones you do not like. Understand issues beyond partisan politics. Learn the history, accept where things have gone wrong


Act. Do you know people with different skin to yours? Listen to their point of view without judgement. When you see inequity or ill treatment, challenge it. You are all different but doing nothing is not a good option.


Pray. Pray for change, for hope, for deliberate action. Pray for those who mourn, hold those who are angry before God. Pray for yourself and your journey as a change-maker.


As a church it is high time we at Redeemer deliberately involve ourselves in conversation around racism and begin to understand our part in the solution. Listen first, allow trust, accept invitations and be a light-bearer in all that you do.


Interested? Let me know.


Caroline+







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The Psalm at Morning Prayer today is 137 - by the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept, there we remembered Zion. The iconic recording by Boney M is the video attached.


Anyway, the idea of a Babylonian Captivity is one which has been used at various times when people lack freedom and are oppressed. The Civil Rights Movement was one (we remember Martin Luther King today) and there are plenty of situations in the world where this Psalm is sung with deep and great regret and pain.


I do not mean to cause offense by saying this - being locked out of Church for a few weeks is not the same as generations of systematic oppression - but we are in a small sort of exile. Perhaps, during this Holy Week, this might be a theme we can think about - look around us in this country and beyond for those in true exile, hold them in our prayers. Perhaps this experience might spur us to action for those who will not have an end to their disconnect in a few weeks (we hope) with a door to a building being opened.


The Psalm asks how we can sing the Lord's song in a strange land - how can we, and how can we if they cannot?

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Yesterday, we started the climb up to Jerusalem with the Ascent Psalms at Morning and Evening Prayer. Psalms 120 - 134 are thus called because of the Hebrew words which begin each of them "A Song of Ascents". They are often thought to be Psalms which we sung on the journey up to the Temple in Jerusalem.


As Psalms go, they are very straight forward. Most of them are short and refer to God's mercy, greatness the the authors' longing for God. Psalm 130 which we used on Sunday, is a plea to God. (I tend to quote Psalms in the 1662 language which is how I learned them - they kinda stuck that way).


"Out of the depths have I called to thee O Lord, Lord hear my voice.

Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications"


121, is a response to God's love.


" I will lift up mine eyes to the hills,

From whence cometh my help.

My help cometh even from the Lord; who hath made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; and he that keepeth thee shall not sleep,

Behold he that keepeth Israel, shall neither slumber, nor sleep......"


Imagine if you will, the tiredness and joy of reaching Jerusalem after a long journey. The gratitude for your spiritual home, the familiarity of prayers and rites and for many the very real aches and pains of the journey.


As we face towards Jerusalem and Holy Week it might be worth our while looking at these Psalms. They encompass so much, and so much is true for us as was true for the ancient singers and writers. Their breadth of feeling and content can cover our lives with ancient words. In a sea of sadness and uncertainty there is truth, and that truth is God, somehow, that truth is God. I will end with some words from Psalm 122:6-end, they mention Jerusalem but can be for any place and any time;


O Pray for the peace oof Jerusalm may they prosper that love thee.

Peace be within thy walls  and plenteousness within thy palaces.

For my brethren and companions’ sakes  I will wish thee prosperity.

Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God  I will seek to do thee good.


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