Jesus didn’t have much time for those self-righteous people who thought they were better than anyone else!

 6 June 2020 |

Matthew’s gospel opens what Christian’s name the New Testament of the Bible. It’s a retelling of the story of Jesus and, for many, the basis of what they believe about Jesus. In the very first chapter, and after a list of descendants, Matthew tells the Christmas story of the angel announcing the birth of Jesus, a birth signifying the saving of the people and the sign that “God is with us”. The reading for this week in June,closes Matthew’s gospel with confirmation that Jesus is still with us, ‘to the end of the age’ and a demand for his smallband of disciples to go out into the world and tell others about this creative love.

What does this mean for us today? Christians believe that in the story of Jesus we see a person who through his actions reveals something about the love streaming through the universe and the way we should act in the light of that love. But it is not just in his actions, but also in his very being. And so this story connects every person with that creative and loving spirit that is foundational to life not just on earth but throughout the galaxies. It’s a brave and bold assertion. 

Jesus didn’t have much time for those self-righteous people who thought they were better than anyone else. He was about healing and reconciling communities with those at the edge of society; he’d rather eat a meal with tax collectors and prostitutes than with those who claimed to be holy and pious. It’s a challenge for us all; to live lovingly with everyone else, to respect people who are very different from ourselves, to build up our communities with a bridge of love, not a wall of separation.

In response to the scenes from the USA recently, the United Reformed Church published a statement, expressing our solidarity with Black Americans. “…As Christians, we heed Christ’s call that we should be one, we reaffirm our unity with all people through the love of our one parent-God, and we declare that it is meaningless to claim that “all lives matter” until Black Lives Matter.

We offer this prayer, bringing to God the pain and concern of our fractured world, condemning all violence and yearning for change:

Eternal God,
deeply troubled by what is happening following George Floyd’s death,
and by too much other inhumanity that doesn’t reach the headlines,
we cry to you as the one
whose love was the victor at Easter and
who pours it into our hearts at Pentecost.

As we observe the pain of a fractured world,
use your love to drive us from sadness to compassion;
as we watch the pain of the bereaved,
use your love to move us from pity to companionship;
as we are faced with the pain of marginalised people,
use your love to point us from complacency to your commonwealth.

In our praying,
let us not just talk to you,
but yield to your love;
in our anger,
let us not just rail against injustice,
but manifest your love;
in our actions,
let us not just flail about aimlessly,
but build the civilisation of love.

Until none of us are disregarded for who we are
nor any diminished by what we fail to be,
we keep on praying in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.” 

(from the URC’s statement published on 3 June 2020)