You may remember that at last year’s Methodist conference a rainbow of wrist bands had been produced with the Methodist church logo on them and the words of Micah 6:8 Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly. I had one in each colour and wear them even now. Apart from the fact that this is one of my favourite verses from scripture, these wristbands also remind me on a daily basis of what a great motto this remains, even in the 21st century; or perhaps especially for the 21st Century. It does seem that in this global world, dominance on a variety of levels including finance, armaments and exclusive territorial rights – seems to be a somewhat aggressive strategy for a number of world leaders. It is a strategy that is totally at odds with this verse from Micah, which deep down we all know to be the path to harmonious equitable and abundant life for.
I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel that the self centered, exclusivism of some of the most powerful in the world right now is a narrative that is becoming increasingly scary…How do we ever draw back from this? Where will it end? What is the future for our children and their children if this trajectory of abuse of power continues?
And yet if you look closely at grassroots level you will notice that something quite remarkable is happening…a quiet revolution is taking place which shows that the old order of division is breaking down and the desire to do justice, act kindly and walk humbly is springing up in all sorts of places. Such stories are not hard to find if we can just divert our attention from the attention grabbing headlines of global politics and look for the stories of Love.
Take this headline in the Independent for example
‘A multitude of different faith groups are teaming up across the UK to help the homeless, Muslim NGOs are working hand-in-hand with churches in London to distribute food and sleeping kits. Anglicans, Catholics, Methodists, Quakers, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs meanwhile opened up a night shelter in Leicester last week, in what is believed to be the first enterprise of its kind.’
And this is not a one off story! Every day new stories of love, kindness and of people bravely standing up for justice come across my news feed in many different guises. People of different faiths and people of no faith sharing and caring together and doing whatever they can to bring comfort to the vulnerable and to victims of injustice.
Change is undoubtedly happening right now, it is painful and sometimes terrifying but a new order of things is being birthed and we have a choice set before us. We can either retreat into the fear and despair that plays into the hands of the powerful demagogues or we can follow Micah’s call and walk humbly together that collectively we might do our part to help bring this new world into being.
As I write my last letter for this church before moving onto my new appointment, my prayer for you is that you will continue to write new stories of kindness, hope and justice and to make a stand for the weak and the vulnerable. I pray that all the green shoots of hope and new life in this church will be nurtured and brought into full bloom, and I have every confidence, that when I come past this way again, which I surely will, the one thing that won’t have changed is the love and grace with which you hold all. This has been such a blessing to so many and something that I will carry with me always. Thank you.