“Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-ending stream.”
(Amos 5:24 NIV)
When 2020 began, none of us could have imagined that the year would so quickly turn into a time of pandemic and protest that would affect us all at the deepest levels of our spirits and indeed our very humanity. Right now, in addition to living through the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the brutal killing of George Floyd in the USA – the latest in a dreadful long line of Black American men and women who have died in Police-related incidents - has focussed the world, including the UK, on the issue of Racism and the need for change. Right now, the UK’s cities resound with the cry for a different, more Just way to live together.
Justice is one of the life words that jumps from the Bible’s pages. Lifewords is for Justice. For Mercy, Grace, and Peace. For Hope, Faith and Love. And Racism has no part in any of those things. It’s been too long, shamefully long, for justice to be seen and embraced. Right now, in real time, we are seeing a sweeping away of the attitudes, systems, and complicities that provide the fuel for Racism in society, in culture; in our organisations, churches, communities and yes – in our personal lives.
It’s time for change. Black lives matter, and for too long, for too many, that has simply not been a given. We want to acknowledge the particular distress and exhaustion that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the UK are going through. As well as being disproportionately at risk (statistics suggest at least twice as likely to die from COVID-19*), the recent global events have raised the trauma of injustices perpetrated over centuries.
Like you, we understand it is no longer enough to be passive about injustice. We stand with all of our supporters who pray, ache, and long for Justice. We commit together with all those of our supporters who are committed to working and rooting out Racism in all its insidious forms in our circles of influence and in our own lives. It’s way past time. And the Bible’s life words – so often weaponised and misused, from propping up photo-opportunities to justifying violence and oppression – have a vital contribution to make.
For Lifewords as an organisation that in the UK has a small staff, we strive to reflect the diversity of the communities we represent, but we recognise that we need to lament and do better; and those of us in the staff that are white commit to doing the work to dismantle the inherent privilege of that. Lifewords wants to be part of the solution, not the problem, and to be accountable as we act.
So, we’ll seek the things that we can do and contribute to, taking immediate steps like amplifying Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic voices (e.g. clergy, theologians, authors, group leaders and others working in the field) in the UK and beyond; like assessing the platforms and places we agree to attend and contribute to; like developing more proactive relationships/partnerships with churches beyond majority white church networks. And, we’ll try to make thoughtful resources that respond to and reflect a positive contribution to anti-racism and its effects (e.g. mental wellbeing, loss, hopelessness, etc.) We’ll also be examining how we work and the way we’re set up so that Lifewords can be better equipped and placed to contribute effectively.
Lifewords is only here to make a difference and to empower you with Bible resources and creative ways into the Bible for your ministry, work and daily life. Please let us know what resources are helpful at this time and please contact us if there is a partnership to explore for new relevant resources that communicate the Bible as good news in this global situation.
Now is a time for the ‘big picture’ in our work together. It’s a time to go deeper and act wisely. The Christian contemplative, Richard Rohr, wrote recently: “Solidarity with the larger pain of the world is what it means to be a Christian.”
Bishop Dr Joe Aldred (Churches Together in England) reminds us: “As Christians, we are called to do more than platitudes. We are called to look for truth, and when we see evil, we should be very willing to call it out.”
Let’s pray, work and stand together as we seek to walk in the way of God’s love and carry the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go.
Please stay safe as we continue to navigate Covid-19 as well – our resources are available both as physical products and increasingly online.