Church of England Diocese of Leicester Billesdon cum Goadby and Rolleston

Sermon 21st June 2020

21 Jun 2020, 4 p.m.

Bible Readings  (Second Sunday of Trinity) Romans 6.1b-11 and  Matthew 10.24-39

Last week I was talking about hearing the Bible in one ear and with the voice of today in my other ear!

Today I feel like I’m in the middle of a playground with the voices of 20 surrounding me.

We have today’s two readings – not necessarily the easiest of Bible readings to talk about.

It’s Father’s Day.

The European Conference of Churches has set aside today to remember all those who’ve lost their lives trying to find safety in Europe.

It’s Windrush day tomorrow (22nd June) – 72 years since the Windrush passenger liner arrived here, many of those who came were treated badly at the time, and then again recently in what has become known as the ‘Windrush scandal’.

Black Lives Matter – still we hear that cry, because still the experience of some is that they don’t.

We have just kept silence to remember, and as we did so we looked at a painting by Meg Wroe, created from a comment by Dr Elizabeth Henry – what resulted from that comment was Meg painting three of her friends in this ‘Trinity – after Rublev’ which has guided our silence – it is in silence that we often hear most clearly.

You might think that all of this does not really relate to us today, but I can’t get another voice out of my head, Sir Trevor McDonald in his ‘advert’ for television which finishes with his words ‘Because in the end, we are changed by what we see. Just as we are changed, when we are seen’ as a young black lad comes into the room to see Sir Trevor speaking on the television. It is for me an incredibly powerful moment.

What do these voices have to say alongside our Bible readings today?

One of the things I have always believed is that the Bible is a living conversation, God’s word that speaks into every generation, hearing God’s voice for today involves finding ourselves in the story of God’s people. We too are changed when we see ourselves in the story.

The picture we looked at when we were in silence is based on that famous Icon by Rubelev, I love the original and this contemporary version because in picture form they demonstrate what I’ve just been speaking of.

There is an empty side of the table, left for us to sit at, on the other three sides the persons of the Trinity, we are invited to be part of the story of God, when we join the story we find a reflection of ourselves (which is why that contemporary version matters so much) for each and every one of us - whatever our skin colour, gender, sexuality, age or any other difference you might be able to think of – is actually a reflection of God in whose image we are created.

In today’s readings I find a shared theme of darkness and light, hidden and seen, Jesus assures the disciples that God see’s all and that all will be revealed in time.

As we think about the Windrush scandal, Racism in our structures and systems and prejudice against those who seek safety we might wish to hide those behaviours, not to speak or acknowledge them, to say clearly “it’s not me, I don’t think that.”

Yet God’s way seems to be not to hide, but to bring into the light, to acknowledge what has been wrong – to make that visible.

The context in which this is done is one where each person matters, more valuable than the Sparrow which God is attentive to, in a world such as ours this value God places on us speaks of the truth that every life matters and so the cry ‘Black Lives Matter’ is important - for unless that is true then we cannot say All Lives Matter.

These are difficult things to speak about, not unlike Jesus words to his friends, he speaks of the ‘sword’ the disagreement that will come because of our faith. Where our Love of God is to be more important than reputation, friendship, family – than life itself.

I sometimes find myself afraid of what will happen if I challenge prejudice of any kind and yet when I read Jesus words of how God views us – I cannot keep quiet and allow any persons words (no matter who they are) to communicate to others that an individual might not matter to God or is somehow less valuable because of who they are.

What about our first reading from Romans – it speaks of slavery, our own slavery to sin, it talks about us sharing in the Death of Jesus so we might Live. It speaks about Dying to our old self and Living to God.

What then does it mean right now to ‘Live to God’?

In our country, in our County, In our City, in our Village – How can we Live to God?

What behaviour might we need to challenge?

What words might we need to speak?

Who might need us to stand alongside?

Who might need practical help?

What in ourselves should we ‘die’ to?

That last question may be one for the darkness, for the time when we are alone with God, the thoughts and attitudes of our heart which we keep in darkness from others can be safely brought out before God, brought into the Light and transformed.

The other questions – how do we Live to God in what we challenge, say, stand (or Kneel as Martin Luther King did) for – what practical help we give to who… these are questions we can think about together.

So I wonder – what do you think we as God’s people need to do or be or say…

so that today we can ‘Live to God’?