Blog — 7th June 2020
Black Lives Matter
Dear NTC friends,
As a college we have been grieving, reflecting, praying, seeking, and calling one another to justice for decades. At the heart of our faithful learning community, we seek to be people who bear prophetic witness, shape our lives in proximity to others, and support those who are the most marginalised. This shapes us theologically, in our teaching, learning, prayer and worship. We want to be those who rest in solidarity with the suffering and those marginalised, with the outsiders and with those learning to be witnesses for Christ to all.
This is the task of each generation and demands humility, perseverance and a willingness to listen well. We yearn to be godly in our lament for the sin and brokenness of racism, for it scars humanity. We long to be Christ-like in our attitudes to others, for love is the way of hope. We hope to be active participants in our world and communities as we join others in redressing the sins of the past, creating a different future.
I am writing this on a week of rightful protests rising up around much of the world – demonstrating, crying out, bearing witness to the reality that racism continues to blight our lives and communities, that oppression has been and is often still real, and emphasising a truth: black lives matter. And, that in this moment our Christian story bears witness to this: Jesus’ love has no partiality and therefore draws our attention to those systemically on the losing side of partiality. How do we hear again the voices from the margins? How do we love well? How do we seek justice? We listen, we walk and stand alongside, we hear the stories, we amplify the cries of the wounded, and, as a community, we seek to be shaped differently. The task of theology has never been more important – of delving into Scriptures and recovering the ways of Christ, reshaping the church, and learning together to be newly created in one family, reconciling, reconciled, truly one.
Today, in the cities of the UK, and in cities around the world we want to stand with those who have experienced, are experiencing, and will experience racism. The systems and structures of nations, governments, institutions, and sadly, tragically, often the church, have served to oppress and further harm – and we join the voices of others saying enough and no more.
I say this, mindful that we are a global college. Our community stretches around the world, and in many places of our students and alumni, our sisters and brothers in Christ, there is indescribable suffering because of violence, poverty, religious and political war and oppression. We are in solidarity with them. I think of our brothers and sisters – including some of our students and alumni – in the middle east, so often oppressed, economically suffering, and yet courageously caring for the refugees in their nations who are running from war. Boundaries crossed for the gospel. I think of our brothers and sisters in Bangladesh and India, ravaged by storms and devastating hunger and poverty, where our churches, our alumni, our students, our people, are caring for the poorest, crossing caste, or religion to serve, feed, shelter and offer hope. I think of our alumni in Japan just now, caring for communities devastated by natural disaster. I think of our students in Hong Kong, and the unrest and upheaval there. These are but a few. I think of our history: the photos in the corridor and the communion vessels we have, gifted because they were desecrated in the Armenian genocide over a century ago.
The world we serve is so complex, each human so precious, each voice, life, people group, so important. In saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ we are acknowledging that institutions and policies so often do not treat all lives as fully human, whether in the US or Europe, the Middle East or around the world. Because Black Lives Matter, there is no inference that other lives are lessened. On the contrary, when one group is deemed less-than, dehumanised repeatedly, systematically set to one side, chronically oppressed, then we rise up and hear the cries of the oppressed around the globe – in so doing we side with God, who persistently heard the heart-felt cries and responded. Forgive us our sin and deliver us from evil we pray, and when we pray this, we mean also the evil within us, and the evil we participate in – not by will, nor by desire, but because the powers and principalities long for nothing more than to oppress, devour, divide and destroy.
In saying all this, we lament today. We join with our global church in naming and speaking truth, confession, prayer, and fasting. We join in interceding and acting alongside our global family for an end of injustice, ethnocentrism, and racism in all its forms. As a college community, we continue to commit to love and serve all people. For our students from BAME communities, drawn from within the UK and around the world, we continue to listen, to hear, to learn, to confront, to challenge, and to counter personal, institutional and systemic racism wherever we encounter it. We join with you, and with others who are determined to join in a life-time of transformation for the sake of the Gospel and in the name of Jesus – who is love.
On this Trinity Sunday, may the love of God, the heart of all the world, the companionship and mercy of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and the power and breath of the Spirit, renew us, and all the world.