28th June 2020
Call to Worship:
Lord God, Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians: 3-16)
Song: Fred Hammond - They That Wait
Lord God, as we gather here today to worship your holy name. We pray that you will bless our hearts and minds as we come together to be in your presence. Today on the Sunday following Windrush Day, we think of all those who made the trip to this country, to help rebuild it and build better and brighter futures for their families. We pray that we will not just know them for their contribution to this country but for their humanity and who they are as your children.
We thank you God, for allowing us to come together to worship you today and welcome anyone who may be new in this group or who has felt from distant you as we lack physical meetings.
Lord God, bless us today as we worship with you.
In Jesus name we pray.
Lord’s Prayer: Congregation
Song: Called Out Music - My Prayer (Yahweh)
Good News: Church
Lord God, we thank you for blessing the week that has just gone by and as we prepare for next week we would like to thank you by sharing in the good news.
Introduction to the Windrush
The Empire Windrush set sail from the Caribbean stopping on several islands, in South America, North America and eventually Tilbury Docks in Britain. This was the first of many ships and planes to depart from the Caribbean and arrive in Britain. They were filled with people who came to rebuild Britain in the post war era, to fill the labour supply in industries such as transport, healthcare and manufacturing.
As a historian, my job is to essentially to write history. My current project is focused on Caribbean women who served in WWII and migrated to Britain in the post-war era and how they navigated society and were able to make Britain home through their professional lives, political lives and social lives.
Even though it is my job to write history I like to let the people I write about where possible speak for themselves, by using autobiographies and oral histories, so I thought I would share a few with you in order for you to hear first-hand some of the experiences of the ‘Windrush Generation’.
The first video is from the Pathé news reel on June 22nd 1948, and shows passengers disembarking from the Windrush Ship.
Next we will we hear three oral histories and a be read a transcript from an oral history project conducted with some members of the Windrush Generation:
Linda Small (read by Ingrid)
Song: Marvia Providence - Hear My Cry Oh Lord
Old Testament: Deuteronomy 10: 12-22
Fear the Lord
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.
New Testament: Hebrews 10: 19-31
A Call to Persevere in Faith
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[e] 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Song: Marvia Providence – I Am A Warrior
I opened this service with the Pathé newsreel of the Windrush ship pulling into Tilbury docks and some oral histories which illuminated some of the reasons that people from the Caribbean came to Britain. They were the beginning of this specific generation of people that came to rebuild Britain in the post-war era.
They would take on jobs in factories and manufacturing, in transport, education and of course in the National Health Service which had been established only a few months prior. The NHS to this day is in its majority staffed by people defined as immigrants of the children of immigrants. They don’t just come from the Caribbean but Africa, Asia and even as close as Europe and Ireland. Britain’s history of colonial conquest has ensured that Britain will be a country that relies on others for its work force, its culture and its future. However, as we have witnessed especially in the past few years in the wake of Brexit and a hostile immigration policy has led to a rise in racially motivated hate crimes.
We also heard earlier from some of the people classified as the Windrush Generation. Firstly, I would like to note that although it was only in the wake of the awful Windrush Scandal that this categorisation was made. Those who came to Britain for a better life for themselves and to serve this country should be remembered as more than just a scandal. They should be known as more than a group of people wronged by a systemically racist policy undertaken by the British government and they WILL be remembered by the things they achieved despite what was stacked against them and what they endured in this country.
I used oral histories and interview extracts because I believe they really allow people to speak and not be spoken for. Not many of those who came on the Windrush ship are alive today but many of that generation still are and even worship with us in our Church. I salute you all today for the sacrifices you have made for this country, thank you for persevering!
Now I say this to say this isn’t a distant History. Like the Histories of Kings and Queens you learnt at school… this is a History that is close, it is recent, it is influential and it has shaped our society, especially here in Birmingham.
Linda Small’s experience of Church in Britain in the 1950s was harrowing when you consider what the Church is supposed to represent. However, it is a story common to Black people whether it be in the American South, some parts of Asia or here in Britain. Rejected by the one place we are told by God should be welcoming of everyone. It highlights the power of evil in this world and how it can seemingly overcome the doctrines set down by God in the New Testament. The priest asked Ms Small “not to come back” but Romans says ‘Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you.’ We know how wrong the Priests actions were as he tried to facilitate members of his Church that did not understand the Bible or Jesus or what He stood for… but as a Church we must examine the worlds expectations that are put onto us that do not live up to Christ's example. We must call these things out within our society and especially in our Church.
Our Bible reading from Deuteronomy is a reminder to us as believers having received the message of God before and also to the Israelites, as they became stubborn in their habits. The word Deuteronomy comes from the Greek meaning ‘copy’ or ‘repetition’ in the same way this message is being repeated for those who have forgotten who they have been called to buy God to be. Verse 16 says ‘circumcise your heart and do not be stiff necked any longer.’ Verse 17 reminds us of how awesome and mighty God is. Verse 19 says to ‘love those who are foreigners’ and verse 20 reminders our duty is to ‘fear the Lord your God and serve him.’ These reminders of the people of Israel as they became lax in their behaviour and in the same way they serve as a reminder to us today. Just because the world is dark or evil or the people around us may be acting a certain way we must not be out of the demands of the world. Government policies are often unkind and lack compassion and care and we have seen in the past few years the result of that. Unlawful deportation, a lack of funding for those who are needy and vulnerable within our society, unjust and avoidable deaths in certain communities during this pandemic have caused widespread suffering. The lack of humanity seems to be infectious. However, we cannot let that consume us, we cannot let that break us, nor can we let that change us as believers. We have been called to better and higher purposes by God. Well some shut the door in the face of those who need them bowing to external pressures of respectability we must be like Christ and welcome one another as we have been welcomed by him.
The title of the reading from Hebrews is ‘A Call to Preserve in Faith.’ What really stood out to me in the reading from Hebrews is verse 23 ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.’ It speaks of having hope in God and goes to highlight that we must think about how we encourage one another towards ‘love and good deeds.’ The reading goes on to speak about the consequences of sin and God’s judgement should we repeatedly ignore His commands. We must persevere in faith by doing what is just and right which seems like a simple thing to do. However, it is often difficult to do what is just and good when the line between good and bad is blurred by those in power and those who control mass media and popular culture, which can impact our thinking.
On this Windrush Week, we celebrate those who came to this country to serve the big cities blitzed by bombs, the widows devastated by loss, and the sick and vulnerable in the newly formed NHS. They did it to serve their families back home financially and the future generations that could benefit from living in Britain. This generation of people came to serve. They were oftentimes not repaid with kindness of compassion or even respect but they continued to persevere in faith and in hope that things would improve.
I believe we should always learn from History not only when observing mistakes but also by replicating the good. We may take example from those who came before us and above all we are here to serve the Lord.
Please reflect on this as we listen to our next song…
Song: Tori Kelly - Soul’s Anthem (It Is Well)
Prayers of Intercession:
Dear Lord, 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. Lord God, 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.
At this time we pray especially for those who are grieving for the loss of loved ones, whether that be as a result of the Corona virus or other causes. 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.
Lord we pray for those who have lost loved ones as a consequence of racism or police brutality, whilst the world thinks and reflects about how it can change, many fresh wounds have been opened and we pray that you would hold those affected in your heavenly hands. For all those that have been impacted by immigration policies we pray for peace and clarity and that the government will open their hearts and act with compassion and kindness towards all.
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
Song: Fred Hammond -This is the Day