Sunday 1st November 2020
Migration and Purpose
Today the service will be about migration and purpose which is a strange mix of themes but following on from Black History Month and the fact that I’m leading the service and as a historian my research centres around migration and the experiences in particular of Caribbean women in Britain… we will [I hope] arrive at the intersections of these topics by the end of the service.
Call to worship:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.—Psalm 100
Song: So Will I (100 Billion X) / Do It Again - Cross Worship feat. Osby Berry
Good Morning everyone, welcome to Elmwood, I hope you are all feeling blessed and refreshed this morning!
Bow your heads with me as we open this service in prayer.
I pray you will bless our hearts this morning and open our minds to your word today. I pray you will allow us to understand the word today and that it will penetrate our hearts, I pray we will be obedient to your message as we go into a time of worship, prayer and reflection. Lord I pray you will be with those here today physically and virtually that may be hurting God, please lighten their burdens and be with them today and always.
Thank you for blessing us with safe passage to come to gather with you today, Lord as two or three are here gathered in your name I pray you will be in midst of us and intercede in this service today.
Thank you Lord for being with us, now and forever.
We will now say the Lord’s prayer
Song: Tori Kelly - Just As Sure (Live) ft. Jonathan McReynolds
Welcome and Notices: Cel
Everlasting Father, thank you that you are the light of the world, guiding our steps on your path. Your word says that the earth is yours, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to you. We recognize everything we have belongs to you. We acknowledge that our very lives belong to you. We now offer back to you a portion of what you have given us, as we take up the offertory during this next song...
Please come up one by one and place your gifts in the plate on the altar.
Song: The Kingdom Choir - Blinded By Your Grace
Faithful Father, thank you that you give the gift of abundant, eternal life. ... May our gifts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our God. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honour, and power and strength, be unto you our God for ever and ever. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
Proverbs 19: 19-29
19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.
20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
22 What a person desires is unfailing love[b];
better to be poor than a liar.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
24 A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he will not even bring it back to his mouth!
25 Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge.
26 Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother
is a child who brings shame and disgrace.
27 Stop listening to instruction, my son,
and you will stray from the words of knowledge.
28 A corrupt witness mocks at justice,
and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
29 Penalties are prepared for mockers,
and beatings for the backs of fools.
John 4: 1-26
John 4: Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
Song: TONE 6 - COVER Imagine Me By Kirk Franklin
The first written record of African people in Britain dates back to the 3rd Century AD. They came via the movement of the Roman Empire which due to its expansive span through trade, military movements, civilian migrations which were both voluntary and forced… all kinds of people travelled within the Empire, making it very multicultural.
Whilst the records of these early settlers are only written records and often hard to imagine, in 1953 an ancient skeleton was discovered in East Sussex. It wasn’t until 2014 though that her identity was revealed, with new forensic techniques it was discovered that she lived around 200-250 AD and was of Sub-Saharan African Ancestry.
It is of great interest to me that the first black Briton known to us, is in fact a woman, when the history of migration is often quite male, especially when we look at latter time periods such as the Windrush migration in the post war era.
It was originally assumed that an African person living in Britain at such an early date would have been an enslaved person however, a skeleton of a woman now named the ‘Ivory Bangle Lady’ was found in York, buried in a stone coffin. Her ivory bracelets, earrings, pendants and other expensive possessions she was buried with highlighting her wealth and subsequent status within British society. Forensic testing and isotope analysis indicated she was of North African ancestry due to her skull shape and other results, suggested she was in Britain around in 4 AD.
As British history has developed African and consequently Caribbean people have popped up in large and small groups from these early settlers to the those who have recently arrived. There were Black Tudors such as John Blanke, a royal trumpeter in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII who is immortalised in the College of Arms MS Westminster Tournament Roll dating back to 1511.
One of the first Black nurses, identified as working in Britain during the 19th Century was Annie Brewster. She was born in Saint Vincent in 1858 and moved to South London in the 1860s. She worked at the London Hospital, working on female medical wards before being promoted to the nurse in charge of the Ophthalmic ward in 1888.
Another and more famous nurse is the British-Jamaican Mary Seacole who travelled from her native Jamaica to Britain to volunteer as a nurse during the Crimean War. She was trained by her Mother in Jamaica to administer herbal remedies and treat tropical diseases. Despite being rejected by the war office and Florence Nightingale’s team at a hospital in Scutari, she headed for the front line where she healed hundreds of soldiers during the battle.
Her story was not brought to light until 1984 when her autobiography was found and republished, and now she features as the only named Black woman on the British school’s History curriculum. How could England forget a women who made it her personal mission to travel across the world and heal sick and wounded soldiers on the frontline during active conflict? Interestingly, whilst I echo this question it was William Howard Russel, Times Correspondent during the Crimean War who noted “I have witnessed her devotion and her courage ... and I trust that England will never forget one who has nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead." However, England did forget.
There were families like the Moody’s, from Jamaica who arrived in the Edwardian period. Dr. Harold Moody, moved from Kingston to London to study medicine at King’s College London, he finished top of his class when he qualified in 1910 but after being refused work due to his race he set up his own practice in Peckham in 1913. Whilst in Britain he established the League of Coloured Peoples, in March 1931… The objectives were to promote and protect the social, educational, economic and political interests of its members; 2) to interest members in the welfare of coloured peoples in all parts of the world; 3) to improve relations between the races and 4) to co-operate and affiliate with organisations sympathetic to coloured people.
He most notably fought against racial prejudice in the armed forces, successfully lobbying Parliament regarding the colour bar in the armed forces during WWII, after the war office rejected black men and women for service. His children Arundel, Ronald, Garth, Harold, and Christine all received army or RAF commissions… two as Doctors and two rose to the rank of major by the end of WWII.
Having become a respected and influential doctor in Peckham, Dr. Moody was very involved in organising the local community during the Second World War, he was the first doctor on site at the New Cross Rocket explosion in 1944 where nearly 200 were killed and many more injured.. he worked day and night during the blitz, amid falling bombs, providing medical service to all who needed it.
Trust me I could go on and on with the names of achievements of Black people in this country, despite the adversities, the racism and the glass ceilings that are often put above our success. My current favourite Black Briton is Marcus Rashford, whilst his persistent campaign to see children eat is not only shocking in the year 2020 in the 6th biggest economy of the world. But in the face of government failings and consistent online backlash he continues to pledge his own time and money to the cause of easing child poverty which has unfortunately rocketed during the pandemic.
During Black History Month I had the pleasure of going to a school to teach some Black History lessons specifically about the Windrush and one of the children asked me, ‘What would have happened if the Windrush never came?’ and I didn’t have an answer at first because well I wouldn’t be here as the granddaughter of a nurse, teacher and bus driver who all formed part of the Windrush Generation. I had to answer and tell them that we’d all either be still on our respective islands or we would have come until later because I believe as humans we have a natural curiosity to explore, whether that be in our own cities or towns or on a more global scale. Migration has defined the histories of many countries in the world especially this one and features heavily in the Bible.
Jesus, born in Bethlehem moved around at various points during his life on earth, his life started in Bethlehem but his ministry led him to Nazareth and Cana in Galilee, to Samaria, and Judea, to name a few places. His purpose on earth led him to move around, spreading God’s message to those he encountered. Some people did not want to hear it, some were happy to live in their old ways but God’s purpose was fulfilled regardless.
As we heard in our New Testament reading earlier in a town in Samaria called Sychar, Jesus met the Samaritan woman. Jesus as a Jewish man broke all social codes to speak to this lady. Samaritans were part Jew and part Gentile and disliked by both groups. She was also a woman, an unmarried one at that, at the well at noon, which is the hottest point of the day. The Samaritan woman unmarried living with a man that was not her husband would have been socially condemned hence why she was at the well at noon as opposed to in the morning when the other women would have collected the water. She is the woman approached by Jesus, chosen by God to receive The Word directly from the source.
In this interaction Jesus asks her to draw him a drink from the well and tells her of the living water of God. He says: “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Personally, it didn’t make sense [to me] that Jesus would make this one stop off on his trip as the disciples went to get food, to tell one woman of God’s living water and criticise her own worship practices… In previous chapters of the New Testament Jesus talks to large crowds and spreads the word in what I would argue to be a more time efficient manner. However, Jesus had a purpose that day on that journey to speak to that one woman, and this objective was achieved. Regardless of how small or insignificant we may understand our purpose to be it is not within our own heart to decide. It is easy to look at any achievement in our lives or others and fail to understand its significance… But I like to think that every action we take during our daily lives are part of God’s bigger plan. So the seemingly random person we might smile at on our supermarket visit or the coins we drop into a homeless persons hand are significant in God’s plan for our lives and those whose lives our intercept.
Proverbs 19, 21 states: ‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ I think we have learnt this as a very hard lesson this year as God’s plans for us all have definitely not matched what we may have envisioned for 2020. As Christians we are not living via the plans in our hearts we are living on God’s time and fulfilling His purpose for us. Those early settlers in Britain who we now refer to as Black Britons are often remembered by what they achieved. I often wonder if that was their purpose when travelling those long distances? Did they achieve what they set out to do on their long journey’s or were they surprised by the trajectory that took over their lives. Many people in the Windrush generation often only intended to stay for 5 years or so, but most remained into their old age and even died and are buried here.
What God has planned for us and who our lives may touch is not for our understanding but for God. He knows our hearts and the plans we have for our lives but overall His will, will prevail. I think as believers we should take comfort in the fact that our lives despite how it may appear have purpose, a purpose that is bigger than us.
Song: Russ Mohr… Good To Me
Prayers of Intercession:
We pray that your purpose for us here on earth, supersedes our own selfish desires. As we continue to walk into the depths of uncertainty, please bless us with gratitude and peace. We thank you for sending your son, into the world and extending your mercy to us as we attempt to walk the journey of life with you. We pray that you will bless our hearts and our minds as we enter into a new week and remember the message you have blessed us with today. This beautiful world you created feels so dark at times, we pray your light will always shine into our lives.
We pray you will soften the hearts of those who carry malicious and evil thoughts about those who may be different to them. We pray that as a Church we may lead by the example set for us by Christ and pray that even when that is difficult we will preserve and serve God over everything else.
We pray for the leaders of the world, who carry the burden of nations on their shoulders. At this time we pray that they accept with compassion, kindness and understanding. We pray they are able to put their own desires to the side and act according to what their countries need. Dear Lord please guide their hearts and fill them with your mercy and love.
At this time we pray especially for those who are grieving for the loss of loved ones, those who are suffering with mental health issues or those who are fearful for the future. God as this virus continues to cause devastation we pray for covering for all those who need it. Please guide and protect all those working to serve this country during this time, and go with them as head into a new working week.
We pray for those closer to home listed on the prayer list. We lift them up to you God and pray that you may be merciful to them in their plight. Lord we ask you to guide our hearts as we continue to navigate an ever fractured world and pray for forgiveness for the times we fall short of this objective.
Lord have mercy on us always and forgive us our sins.
In Jesus name we pray