Daily Devotion for Saturday 11th May 2024

 

Reading  1 Corinthians 12:12-27 

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.  If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were a single member, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many members, yet one body.  The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’  On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member,  that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Reflection

We tend to imagine the cries are ‘out there’; so too the systems to be challenged and changed.  While both are undoubtedly true, I am increasingly struck by how close the cries can be.

In my role as Global and Intercultural Ministries Secretary, I hear many cries from within the body of the URC: Black ministers crying out ‘Does the URC know what we go through?’; accounts of white members consciously staying home when the minister from an ethnic minority background is scheduled to preach; congregants bypassing and excluding their (ethnic minority) minister by calling past incumbents to preside at funerals; one minister being visited by a white colleague, with the parting words, ‘I can accept Black people in the pews, but I can never accept a white collar around a Black neck!’   

Shocking!  But isolated incidents, right???  

The URC has always had Black and ethnic minority members, but this has never been reflected in our General Secretariat.  We have had only one Synod Moderator from an ethnic minority background, and only two Black people serving as Assembly Moderator.  Some ponder whether the overwhelmingly white make-up of these roles simply reflects the people God has chosen to serve.  So, is God racist?  Others suggest that our Black/ethnic minority colleagues need to be upskilled to equip them to serve – but could it be that the skills sought and processes used are (inadvertently?) skewed in favour of people ‘like those’ previously selected?  God calls, but human beings appoint.

Many members welcome the URC’s commitment to becoming an actively anti-racist Church, and the prospect of anti-racism training seeking to bring about change within our body.  Others consider this work to be unnecessary, problematic, or even a ‘non-issue’ – but if we understand ourselves as one body, in which the pain of one member is the pain of all, how can this be? 

Some parts of our body have been hurting for a long time. 
They are crying out.  
Question:  Are we willing to hear?

Prayer 

Ah, Lord…
We see, so clearly, the injustices of our world,
The structures and systems which oppress. 

We grieve their existence –
Pray against them –
As we hear the cries of those
Who bear their weight. 

But do we hear
When the cries are in our midst?
Do we see
When the systems are those we uphold? 

Move us to see, hear, challenge
And transform
Until no part of our body –
Your Body –
Continues in pain.
Amen  

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