Today's meditation comes from Rev Flis.

 

Llanelli and Carmarthen Methodist CircuitI’m sure you have been horrified with what’s going on in America, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis a week or so ago. Film footage of the arrest of Floyd; where a police officer was seen kneeling on the neck of this unarmed (and already restrained) 46 year-old was utterly, utterly shocking. When my daughter first showed me the film clip, I literally sat open mouthed and aghast at the seemingly unmerited brutality. There have been protests of many sorts across the US in response to this. The news tends to focus on the violent ones but there have been plenty of the peaceful variety too.

It feels like the same narrative of inequality, injustice and oppression is (and has been) played out time and time again across our world with certain groups of people faring worse than others. Whether that is manifest in poorer housing, lower wages, a worse outcome with illness (note the astonishing statistics about Covid-19 deaths of those from BAME communities - x4 the average) or lack of opportunity. This isn’t always about the colour of a person’s skin as in this case but can be because of their ethnicity, their religion or their sexuality to name but a few. I have found myself crying out to God this week in prayer. How have we got into this situation? How much longer God, until this world is fair and equal?

I take comfort from Scripture. Injustice and oppression, it seems, has always been a thing and God has a timely word or two about it. From the prophet Amos’s call to ‘Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream’ to the famous verse from Ecclesiastes which says ‘God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed’, God makes his, and what our position should be, clear. And I think I have to quote from Micah at this juncture too, just to hammer the point home. ‘And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’

I’m a fan of trying to be the answer to our own prayers so what can be said about this? Whilst we probably can’t change the world on our own, we can make small differences that will help.

A good starting point is to note that by virtue of living in the UK and to an extent by the colour of our skin, we enjoy privileges that other groups of people do not (think democracy, education, healthcare for all, the welfare state and minimum wage). That privilege affords many things including a voice that can be heard; collectively as a church (see the wonderful Joint Public Issues Team) but also individually by using our vote wisely, by lobbying our MPs and possibly joining a campaign organisation. Let’s also think about where we shop, what we buy and who we bank with as that also does make a difference.

My final point comes from Archbishop John Sentamu who I heard speaking on Radio 4 this morning (Tuesday). He reminded listeners about the wonderful work of Bishop Desmond Tutu in post-apartheid South Africa where terrible the injustice, inequity and oppression of the apartheid system was transformed into truth, restorative justice, tolerance and forgiveness.

I’d like to add another prayer to my ones of earlier in the week.

I’d like to pray that God might turn this terrible situation in to a catalyst for change, that transformation could happen, and that we might be part of that change.

I leave you with the brilliant Bob Dylan’s 60’s protest anthem ‘Blowin’ in the wind’ because in this season of Pentecost it came to mind that any answer to the world’s problem lies very much in the blowing of the ‘wind’ as the Holy Spirit works in and through us.

 

 

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many years can a mountain exist
Before it is washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Bob Dylan Blowin' In The Wind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Audiam, Inc




A Suggested Pattern of Prayer for the Day



MORNING
Wake, but do not move to begin with. Be aware of yourself, the air going in and out of your lungs, be aware of your senses and what they are telling you, feel the aches and pains of life that were dulled a bit by rest.

Give thanks, because all you feel means you are alive, the world is better for you being in it.

Take a moment to think of ONE positive thing you will try to do today.


BREAKFAST
As you make your breakfast, be mindful of each thing you do as you do it. Be fully present.

As you consume your breakfast offer thanks for the producers and distributers of our food, water and power.


LUNCH
Pause. Sit. Breathe. You are still here.

Follow the same routine of mindfulness and thanks as at breakfast.


DINNER/TEA

Same as for lunch


EVENING BEFORE SLEEP
Be aware of yourself, the air going in and out of your lungs, be aware of your senses and what they are telling you, feel the aches and pains of life that will be dulled a bit by rest.

Give thanks, because all you feel means you are alive and have lived, the world is better for you being in it.