Reconciliation: Unity in Diversity

I recently was “sent” as OTC delegate to the AGM of Luton Churches Together. I’ve previously attended some years ago; as a delegate from High Town Methodist Church. When God sends someone – there is always a “cost”. This act of obedience cost me a Fiver! – just for the subsidised, wonderful full breakfast buffet. Gratitude to the Church which really paid the price!

I’ve already introduced the Theme title of the AGM: which, by the way, was a wonderfully relaxed morning. Our time together was a Spirit-filled fellowship of breaking the ice and breaking bread together.

I’m pretty socially nervous of such events; particularly with some great apostolic companions. God, as ever, was gracious and placed a friend, from way back, in my sights – with a vacant place next to him. I was able to nervously babble on about what had gone down, in my life, during the last fifteen or so years!
By the way – this is not the “official” word of The Olive Tree Church, Luton – it’s jus my reflections.

End of ramble – Steve Moody, lead Pastor of Stopsley Baptist Church introduced the piece hinted at in the title. This had emerged from the Churches Together Racial Commission; a response following the George Floyd murder.

I’ll try and summarise. When an OFFENCE has been perpetrated there is the OFFENDER and the OFFENDED party. There is pain, suffering and marginalisation on one side and perhaps denial, complacency and/or feelings of privilege or superiority through ignorance on the other. This can lead to disillusionment, fear, anger, violence, shame – on both sides. The Good News of Jesus the Christ – love, acceptance, forgiveness etc, requires us disciples to see things as they are – not as we want.

Now, in most cases, in our lives we’re not talking about murders but about how we all naturally discriminate or use discriminatory dualistic language. This can be seen in many of our congregational gatherings: for example we have “Black” Churches, or “Black” Pastors. Or just “Them and Us”.This is rather than – “all are one in Christ.”

Through living out the Gospel we need to CONFESS and REPENT in order for RESTITUTION and RECONCILIATION to emerge. Apology is not enough for us “Peacemakers”.

Luton is a great place – a great place where the experience of “tongues” is vital. It may seem like The Tower of Babel at times. I’ve no idea how many languages and cultures are lived in Luton but as apostles on God’s mission we’re sent out to find and listen. How can we meet the needs of “the least of those”? How can their needs be established if we don’t stop talking at them and LISTEN? As a wise person once said God gave us TWO ears but only ONE mouth – point taken!

In a nutshell – all Christians – of all colours, ethnicity, creeds and flavours are called to witness by, first, listening. Listening to the narratives of lives lead by the diversity of people around us: with the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. So we pray and are empowered.

Over the millenia the Gospel has been “preached” at people of difference: different skin colour, different language, different cultures. This has resulted in an imbalanced colonialism where we (white European/American) have assumed superiority and tried to whitewash the message of Jesus: who by the way was not a blue-eyed blond adonis dressed in clean white linen! This has been our sin.
In order to be servants we must establish what is needed by those whom we serve.

In reflection, I for one, must practice what I preach. So I’ll shut up now!

Your brother and friend,

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