Our Weekly Focus features a reflection and prayer on a topical issue, with the latest based around Racial Justice Sunday which takes place on 11 February 2018.'There is still a way to go before we have a country that works for everyone regardless of their ethnicity'' Race Disparity Audit, UK Cabinet Office Click To Tweet
Our Weekly Focus looks at the issue of racial justice in Britain and Ireland and uses resources provided by the United Reformed Church (Global and Intercultural Ministries). Hate crimes related to racial and religious discrimination have soared since the Brexit vote, as outlined in this report in the Independent. A race disparity audit, published by the UK government in October 2017, found that ‘although there are many areas where the gaps between groups have narrowed significantly, there is still a way to go before we have a country that works for everyone regardless of their ethnicity’. Among the findings were:
- Asian and Black households and those in the ‘Other’ ethnic group were more likely to be poor and were the most likely to be in persistent poverty.
- Although pupils in the Black ethnic group made more progress overall than the national average, Black Caribbean pupils fell behind, and low educational attainment and progress is closely associated with economic disadvantage.
- Around 1 in 10 adults from a Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Mixed background were unemployed compared with 1 in 25 White British people.
- Home ownership is most common among households of White British, Indian, Pakistani, and Mixed White and Asian origin; it is substantially lower among African, Arab, and Mixed White and Black African households.
- While there has been a very large reduction in the use of Stop and Search among Black people since 2008/09, the use of these powers remains far higher on this ethnic group than others. Black men are also almost three and a half times more likely to be arrested than White men.
- In 2016, the average custodial sentence length (ACSL) for White offenders was 18 months whereas Black and Asian offenders received the longest ACSL at 24 and 25 months respectively.
open our eyes, ears and hearts
to see your love transfigured
in the world you love so much.
May your word speak to us
showing us the way,
telling a story, your story,
Jesus’ story, our story.
trust in the midst of fears,
hope to overcome our despairing.
Lead us up,
lead us down and
lead us out…
Lead us to listen to the voice of your beloved, LOVE incarnate.
In his name, we pray…
'There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.' Revelation 7.9-10 Click To Tweet
Imagine the difference listening to Jesus would make to hatred! This year many will mark 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King. Just before he was killed, he had his own mountain top experience. Like Moses he had a vision of the layout of the beloved community of which God dreams. Through the clouds and fog he saw the difficult days ahead. Beyond that he also saw the outlines of hope, even though he realised that he may not live to experience the practical content of that landscape. Many of us are still waiting for this beloved community. Evil finds means and avatars to ‘trump-up’ its bent and evil ways. The transfigured one offers a way out: our transfiguration comes as we seek full and abundant life for all. Here is a story about God who is beyond our control, who challenges us to change the way we think and feel and act. We need to learn that compassion cannot be programmed. It is a matter of vision and heart propelled by a love that is of God and that has us moving beyond self-interest. Compassion awakens the human heart to action: not withdrawal. We are invited to step out and partner with God in Christ to change the ugliness of our world – its hatred, its hostilities, its jealousies, its hunger, its poverty, its injustice, its oppression, its alienation, its loneliness, its rivalry, its competitiveness, its grasping, its sickness – into God’s economy of justice and love.
Consider: how can we best live and embody the story of transfigured lives and communities? Who or what we should listening to: our own voices? The voices of those silenced over the years? The strangers at our gates? Those desperate for release from the things that seize them, maul them and dash them to the ground?