Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold


27 Apr 2021, 5:45 p.m.

Half of the Book of Psalms involves lament. That tells us that God’s people have always had a lot to complain about; and it offers some time-honoured templates to help us direct our complaints first and foremost to God, to pour out the problems in our world and in our own lives to the One who is most disposed and most equipped to listen and to act. Often enough the lament ends with envisaging some constructive action – seeking the well-being of our opponents, setting a table to anticipate a meal with those we may fear, blessing a stranger.

Progress is a myth. We <em>still</em> have plenty to lament – in ourselves, in our church and in our world. And still, we’re encouraged not to bottle it up, but to name it, articulate it, voice it. Individually and corporately, to God.

<em>From Lament to Action</em> is the title of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce report published last Thursday. It names in no uncertain terms the causes for lament in our race relations in the church. We have talked the talk without ‘walking the walk’ for at least 40 years and 27 reports. I urge you to read it and to cry out in lament to God as you do so. And if our conviction - that we are all made in the image of God and that in Jesus Christ we are one - is to mean anything, then it is time for our lament to move us into action.

For this we need to envisage a new future. Helpfully the Bible does this for us in the picture from Revelation– of every tribe and tongue and nation gathered around God’s throne, united in worship. It’s of the beauty of diversity orchestrated into harmony; of unity that is anything but uniformity.

And with that picture, we are empowered to combat the sin of racism which so disfigures God’s image in us. The report offers 47 recommendations and a 5 year action plan through which we can demonstrate our repentance with changed behaviours. While these actions will be challenging and demanding, we can expect them also to be transformative. That is our business: transforming church, transforming lives. I cannot wait to be part of what lies ahead. Will you commit with me, both to lament and to action?

<strong>Bishop Jo</strong>