Dear friends of St Cyprian’s A warm welcome, did you have a good summer break, if not when are you planning to indulge in what St Paul calls ‘a time of refreshment’? Recent events at home and abroad indicate, to me, a growing sense of the ‘self’. It’s what I want that matters and sod those who can’t fend for themselves. Many of us Christians are wary of participating in social justice because of a deep-rooted fear of being labelled “liberal,” “progressive,” or “secular.” We don’t want to be associated with “secular” movements, and are uncomfortable delving into issues that go beyond our cultural comfort zones.
But the Bible tells us that Jesus cared deeply about the social causes around him. Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.” Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.” Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.” Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.” Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.” Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.” Even though Jesus loves everyone, even to the point of demonstrating that love upon the cross, he went out of his way to intentionally help specific groups of people — the alienated, mistreated, and those facing injustice. So espousing a cause we can actually be bothered about and say “such-and-such a life matters” and participating in a movement seeking justice, positive reform, and empowerment is one of the most Christ-like things we can do.
We as Christians must recognize that our society is filled with numerous groups and communities facing systemic oppression, and we must act. We must be willing to admit and address the complex realities within our world that create such problems, and avoid the spiritual laziness that tempts us to rely on generic excuses and solutions.
We do a disservice to the gospel message by removing the cultural context from Jesus’s ministry and watering down his message to one of religious platitudes. Throughout the New Testament Jesus was more complex than we give Him credit for. He intentionally, and passionately addressed very specific causes. He radically addressed the diverse and complicated conflicts of the time and shattered the status quo.
Jesus wasn’t just preaching a universal salvation message for the world, but he was also addressing specific political, social, and racial issues. He was helping those who were being abused, violated, and oppressed.
Involving us within these issues, serving those who need justice, is an example of following Jesus that today’s Christians must adhere to, because throughout the world there are millions of people who are suffering. But many Christians remain simply apathetic, ignorant, or refuse to admit any problems exist.
We’re uncomfortable facing the complex and controversial issues surrounding race, ethnicity, history, and culture. To avoid such discomfort, many Christians assume that equality and justice looks like a total dismissal and rejection of any cultural, ethnic, or distinguishing form of identity.
We believe our very humanity should supersede all other labels or descriptions, and that a love of Christ wipes away any “superficial” characteristic such as skin colour, heritage, or other cultural identifier. We seem to see verses such as Galatians 3:28 that states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus” to mean that nothing else matters beyond our faith in Christ.
Ironically, verses like this show that these things — race, ethnicity, culture — do matter to God, because God is recognising the very public fact that there are various laws, expectations, practices, and opinions regarding each distinction mentioned. Paul is validating all of the cultural issues associated with Jews, Gentiles, slaves, the free, men, and women, rather than disregarding them. He’s stating that Jesus is relevant to these differences, and is working throughout their lives by understanding and recognising the unique pros and cons they’re dealing with — the privileges, disadvantages, stereotypes, assumptions, treatment, rights, social value, and expectations they face on a daily basis.
Participating in social justice is a Christian tradition inspired by Jesus, not liberal causes, populist right wing agendas, media platforms, lawmakers, or mainstream fads. It’s a deeply spiritual practice. Because everyone is created in the image of God and loved by God, we are responsible for identifying with the victimised — not rejecting their existence.
That’s why the New Testament goes into great depth detailing the new found worth given to the Gentiles, slaves, and women. These countercultural instructions to believers were radically progressive, to the point where the gospel writers had to put them in writing to make sure they were implemented within the newly formed church.
While God does love everyone and all believers are united in Christ, this doesn’t negate the fact that we have a unique cultural identity and upbringing and are called to recognise the marginalised, help the oppressed, and avoid rejecting their significance by denying their identity or ignoring their plight. By acknowledging and actively participating in the social justice movements, addressing racism, immigration, gender equality, and a litany of other issues, we are following in the steps of Jesus.
It’s not a matter of pitting social causes against the gospel message of Christ; it’s a matter of realizing that these causes are actually an important part of that gospel message. Yours in Christ Fr Michael
Sunday September 8; the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Tradition celebrates the event as a feast in most Anglican liturgical calendars on 8 September, nine months after the solemnity of her Immaculate Conception, which is celebrated on 8 December.
St Cyprian’s Patronal Festival. Our Patronal Festival will be held on Sunday, the 15th of September at 12 noon. Fr Gerald will be here to preach and celebrate. This will be tinged with sadness as this will probably be the final major festival he will attend, (though not the last time we shall see him), before his retirement at the end of the year. I am very hopeful that there will be a great representation from our neighbours, past worshippers and local parishes. The service will be followed by a lunch at The Windsor Castle pub in Park Rd, hosted by the church, to which all who let me know in good time are invited.
Mary Ashwin. Last week, our much loved, Mary had a fall and occasioned a broken wrist and collarbone. Apart from being painful, this must be very frustrating. Please remember Mary in your prayers. Willem & Anne Van der Lee. It is with great sadness that we note the death of Willem & Anne’s daughter, Katherine after a long illness. We pray for the repose of her soul and the comfort for her family. Terri & Robin Horne. Sadly we say cheerio, for the time, to Terri & Robin as they return to the United States. We hope they will return to us ere long. John Blackburne. John, one of our churchwardens, begins his third and final year of training for his ordination to Priesthood in the Church of God. We pray that John will be guided and supported by the Holy Spirit through this challenging time. Major works. Over the summer months we have been very busy with the refurbishment of the crypt area. The major challenge has been identifying the cause of the ingress of water, causing major damp issues. We think and pray that we have discovered the cause, which was a fractured pipe running beneath the pavement. We have temporarily diverted this pipe and the area has dried out. We have re-plastered the walls using a special sealant and will shortly re-carpet the area and install an additional radiator. All this work has been at cost of nearly £25,000; if anyone was able to assist us with meeting this cost it would be greatly appreciated.
Leaving gift to Prebendary Alan Moses As you will by now know, Fr Alan retires as the Vicar of All Saints, Margaret St on Sunday 3rd November. A presentation will be made at the end of High Mass in the morning. In the meantime All St Margaret St are inviting contributions towards the presentation to mark many years of service to, not only his own parish, but ours as well, during which he achieved much. All donations may be given to me to pass on or alternatively cheques may be sent to their Parish Office. Capital Vision 2030 Listening to London, Listening to God Capital Vision 2020 started us down a journey to becoming more confident, compassionate and creative in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our communities, and to show the love of our Creator. There is much to celebrate and build on – from the 56 new worshipping communities that have started, to the 40,000 Ambassadors commissioned and encouraged to live and proclaim the good news of Jesus. Now, as we begin to look forward towards 2030, we are getting on our knees once again to pray and listen to what God has in store for the Diocese of London.
North Paddington Food Bank. It is truly wonderful that Saint Cyprian’s continues to rise to the challenge of supporting the North Paddington Food Bank. The need is as great as ever, even though the sun is shining! Any contributions you are able to give, in the way of dried or canned food or toiletries would be really gratefully received. Thank you so much for your support.
For Celebrants, Preachers, Mass settings and Motets for September please refer to the services page of our website. https://stcyprians.weebly.com/services.html Some words of Saint Mother Theresa: ‘When you look at a crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Eucharist you understand how much Jesus loves you now!’