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- Page 5

  • Martin Luther King Jr - Fifty years On

    My vicar-school was called Luther King House, named in honour of Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

    I discovered this week that a hymn was written for the occasion when 'The Partnership for Theolgoical Education, Manchester' (PTEM) formally brought together Baptists, Congegationalists, Methodists, United Reformed Church and Unitarians. The story of PTEM is one of joy and sorrow, challenge and change; the values of this hymn continue to inspire all that is attempted...

    ‘I have a dream’, a man once said,
    ‘where all is perfect peace:
    Where men and women, black and white,
    Stand hand in hand and all unite
    In freedom and in love.’

    But in this world of bitter strife
    The dream can often fade:
    Reality seems dark as night,
    We catch but glimpses of the light
    Christ sheds on humankind.

    Fierce persecution, war and hate
    are raging everywhere:
    through struggles and through sacrifice
    God's people pay the costly price
    of standing for the right.

    So dream your dreams, and sing your songs,
    But never be content;
    For thoughts and words don’t ease the pain:
    Unless there’s action, all is vain
    Faith proves itself in deeds.

    Lord, grant us vision, make us strong,
    and help us do your will;
    nor let us rest until we see
    your love throughout humanity
    uniting us in peace

    Pam Pettitt (c) P Pettitt

     

    PS the best tune to sing it is 'Repton' (Dear Lord and Father of mankind/us all')

  • Be Careful with Hashtags...

    There is a particularly vile hashtag trending on social media today that speaks about hating and/or punishing muslims.  Sadly, many well-intentioned people are helping it to trend by quoting it when they decry it.

    It illustrates a very real and present challenge - hashtags can be very powerful, and can be a great vehicle for awareness raising, such as the #metoo a few months ago.

    There are alternative hashtags being used today such as #LoveaMuslim and #LoveaMuslimday but even these are not totally problem free - why only one day to care about the treatment of muslims?  Why, as some of other world faiths who experience hatred have asked, choose one faith over any other (well given the context...)

    As Baptists we are supposed to uphold freedom of religion for all people.  To defend the right to choose any faith or none, or to create your own, and to be free from harrasment or interference.  This isn't easy either because it means honouring the freedom of people who choose words and ways that we may find offensive.  The challenge is not a mealy-mouthed 'love the sinner, hate the sin' that somehow frees us of responsibility, but the tricky path of prophetic witness that says, 'what you are saying/doing is wrong, yet I will choose love over hate, forgiveness over vengeance, engagement over estrangement'. 

    I'm nowhere near as good at any of that as I'd like to be. But I am learning to be more careful with hashtags. 

  • If you love me, let me go... Reflections on John 20 and Hermes the Hyndland Station Cat!

    Way, way back, when I was learning, and subsequently teaching, practical theology, one of the recurrent themes was that, if you look hard enough, you can find ways of reflecting theologically with or on any experience.

    On Easter Sunday morning, the early open air service focused on John 20: 10 - 20, where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene and she is told not to cling on to him, but to go and tell his followers what is happening.  The 'apostle to the apostles', sent to tell those who are chosen and sent to be and speak the Good News to the world.  The minister's reflection covered familiar, and timeless ideas... this is a moment of passing on the work to the followers, if they don't let Jesus go, the movement will simply fizzle out and die with the last of them.  Whilst the minister focussed on evangelism (personal conversation), I'd say it was more evangelisation (making the world gospel shaped). If Mary truly loves Jesus, if the disicples really love Jesus, they will let him go, and they will carry on the work, fulfilling his final charge in John's gospel to 'love as I have loved you'

    So what, you ask, has this to do with Hermes the Hyndland Station Cat?

    Yesterday the twitterverse, or at least the part I inhabit, was shocked by news that Hermes is leaving Hyndland for a new life in the countryside.  After this week, his Twitter account will cease to be updated (though his ghost-writer assures us not deleted) and he will be gone from our eyes.

    Now, to be very clear, Hermes is not Jesus.  He's a very lovable, if a little bit naughty, cat.  But, at the same time, he leaves his followers the opportunity to continue with the love he inspired...

    • He has inspired a fan to create and sell a charity calendar raising thousands of pounds in the process
    • He has shared news of lost and found cats, helping them to be find their homes (and when he was lost, he sparked an international wave of love and concern until he was found)
    • He has brought smiles to the faces of commuters, hospital patients and staff alike
    • He has always given me a leg rub and was up for cuddles when we met
    • He has inspired love and generosity and made Hyndland a kinder place.

    I was, genuinely, really sad to read the news that he is leaving - but to cling to him, to want him to stay here would not be to love him.  Rather, to love him is to let him go to his 'heaven' of the Scottish countryside, and to continue the work he began in showing love to those he met in his everyday.

    Farewell, Hermes, the Clepto-Kitties and I will always love you.  And we will do our best to live your legacy - just as I will do my best to live the Good news of the Christ of God, whose love continues to transform the world, if only we will learn to love too, and join in.