As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Tuesday 9th June
The skating minister’
One of the most famous Scottish paintings is of the Rev Robert Walker, skating on Duddingston Loch, Edinburgh. Known as the skating minister, Walker’s skating elegance was captured by Sir Henry Raeburn in 1775. As a young boy Robert had learned to skate on the frozen canals of the Netherlands where his father had been minister at the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam. The Rev Robert Walker was the epitome of an establishment figure. Minister of Canongate Church, Walker was Chaplain of the Royal Company of Archers, a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, chaplain of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, and minister at the Palace of Holyrood House.
But there was another side to Walker’s work and ministry. Despite being a significant establishment figure in Edinburgh and beyond, he was an active antislavery campaigner. Working against the vested interests of the day, in 1788 Walker finally persuaded the Presbytery of Edinburgh to petition Parliament to end the slave trade. It was slow and relentless work. Walker was heavily criticised for his support of the antislavery movement. Also, the wheels of Parliament turned slowly. Eventfully, another social reformer William Wilberforce championed the cause, and it wasn't until 1807 and 1833 the Slave Trade and the Slave Abolition Acts were passed outlawing slavery throughout the British Empire. Today Walker’s contribution to the anti-slavery movement is commemorated at the former slave trading post of Elmina Castle on Ghana's Gold Coast.
Also, at the time of writing, there is no sign of the protest movement bought about by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May, coming to an end. In America alone it is estimated that some 10,000 demonstrators have been arrested. Now protests about racial inequality and police brutality have spread throughout the world. One journalist commented on how this protest movement ‘felt different.’ It is not going to end anytime soon, and real change is now firmly on the agenda. The movement is even gaining traction in the Middle East via social media.
Matthew 5: 1-11
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
Two thousand years ago on a hill side in Israel, Jesus uttered some of the most challenging and meaningful words ever spoken. Included in his teaching, was hungering and thirst for righteousness. It is a curious phrase which can be understood in a number of ways. Hungering and thirsting for a right relationship with God – which would suggest a passionate and committed spirituality in which Jesus is made known and real within our lives. And there is hungering and thirsting for right relationships between people – which would suggest a craving and commitment for social justice.
Personally I believe the two go together. We cannot have a spiritually that is immune or disconnected from the pain and injustice of the world. That kind of faith is sterile. The kind of empty religion that bears no fruit. In other words, we cannot know or love God, unless that knowledge and love reaches out to the hurt and injustice of the world around us.
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church
Let us remember in prayer
All the people affected by racial discrimination – the victims, the perpetrators and the apathetic.
Let us seek God’s forgiveness for the times when have closed our eyes to wrongdoing, failed to act and crossedto the other side of the road.
Let us pray
Suffer God, you stand beside the weak, the forgotten, the lonely, the abused.
When they are beaten, you yourself bleed with them.
You call for a world of freedom and fairness, where all your children live in dignity and hope.
Direct our frequently indifferent hearts to bring Your light into the dark places,
Through Jesus Christ, the compassion of God,
Lord Jesus Christ, into your outstretched, bruised and pierced hands, we place our broken world.
A world enslaved to selfish need.
A world indifferent to the hurt of others.
A world where casual cruelty is hidden but real.
We pray for men, and women, and children caught up in human trafficking.
Torn from home, afraid, alone, unhappy and heart and body sore.
We pray for their homes so far away, with their own needs and hurts and worries.
We pray for those who perpetrate this cruel industry, and for their broken, hardened hearts, that cause such pain, yet no doubt masks a deeper pain and emptiness.
We pray for the agencies of government, law and charity who work to challenge this bitter reality, and seek to stem the tide that laps at every shore of modern life.
We pray that churches, communities and individuals will find the courage to speak out when wrongs are seen and concerns are raised.
We pray for help to come to those enslaved, with freedom, peace and prospects for a brighter, better future.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us when we pray together to say…
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
This day and forever more.