Racial Justice Sunday takes place in 2014 on Sunday 14 September. This year’s resources have been produced by the Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales’ Racial Justice Network.
Titled A Celtic Journey: a Celtic Welcome, this worship service draws upon the idea of pilgrimage, within Wales and beyond, in order to explore pilgrimage and travel in all its challenging and transformative guises. It touches on three particular themes:
- As Christians we are all on a journey
- God’s people were migrants
- Given our Christian history we should be welcoming to minorities in our midst
The writers seek to celebrate the richness of their own cultural and ethnic diversity “and welcome more modern migrants embracing, particularly, the most vulnerable who have fled violence, war and persecution”. From their experience in Wales, they ask for more emphasis to be placed on what recent communites arriving in our local areas have to offer and comment that “this material is offered to the backdrop of the harsh realiteis of a hardening attitude concerning migration and race within Wales”. Tellingly, the service begins with the words:
The world belongs to God,
The earth and all its people.
Because the 2014 service is shaped along the traditional pattern of Morning Prayer, it doesn’t contain hymns or songs. To supplement the resource, therefore, StF+ has provided below ideas for hymns suggested by each of the possible Bible readings, together with brief comments on each reading.
Read more about why the Methodist Church in Britain believes in the importance of marking Racial Sunday.
At the very source of the Abrahamic faiths lies a call to journey – to step out of our comfort zone and trust in God’s hopes for us. It is a reminder, perhaps, that, as a “wandering people” of faith, we are required to demonstrate compassion to others who wander or who are homeless.
This is the first of a series of addresses offered by Moses to the people of Israel just before their entry into the Promised Land. He recalls the story of where they have come from – travelling out from Mount Horeb into what he describes as a “great and terrible wilderness”. It is in this setting and in the forty years of their desert wanderings that the character of God’s people has been shaped.
Ruth 1: 6-22
This is the moment when a young, widowed Moabite woman becomes, we might say, a refugee.
In the face of famine in Moab, Ruth determines to travel with her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, to Israel where food is plentiful. Often read as an expression of life-long commitment it’s worth noting that, initially, Naomi doesn’t appreciate Ruth’s gesture of self-sacrificial companionship: “The Almighty has dealt bitterly with me,” she complains. “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty”. With time, however, Naomi’s future will be made secure through the actions of her foreign relative.
The missionary travels of the apostle Paul and his companions lead to the spread of the Christian message and, in this case, to the conversion of a wealthy female merchant, Lydia. Lydia is a gentile adherent within the minority Jewish community of Philippi. She converts to the even more minority Christian faith. Despite Lydia’s high socioeconomic status, this story suggests Christianity’s commitment to those who live on society’s margins.
One of St Paul’s most passionate statements of commitment to living the way of Jesus of Nazareth: “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The great vision of a spiritual “promised land” (“a new heaven and a new earth”) in which everything we know and understand about ourselves and our relationships is transformed as God becomes completely present “among mortals”.