Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

July 14, 2019: Compassionate Neighbours


From Sandra Rooney


“UK Salute to Immigrants Draws Fire,” “Black People’s Land Was Stolen.” What do these two headlines have in common? A shameful period in the history of Britain and the United States which each nation is being forced to acknowledge and address.

In Britain: June 22 was declared the first National Windrush Day, intended, as Prime Minister Theresa May said, “to remember the hard work and sacrifice of the Windrush generation,” those folks from the British colonies in the Caribbean who came to Britain, beginning in 1948, at the invitation of the government to help meet the postwar labour shortage. The name Windrush comes from the ship that brought the first large group, numbering 492, many of them children. Over the next quarter century many more, including children, arrived in Britain. They held British citizenship, and under the laws at the time were entitled to live and work in Britain. 

Honouring them is fine, as far as it goes. However, more recently, the laws have changed. The 1971 Immigration Act provided that Commonwealth citizens already living in the UK could remain, but, thereafter, a British passport-holder born overseas could only settle in the UK if they had a work permit and could prove that a parent or grandparent had been born in the UK. The rub is that the Home Office did not keep a record of those permitted to remain nor did it issue any paperwork confirming it. All of which has made it difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove they were there legally. Then, in 2010, the Home Office destroyed the landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants. Those without documents are now being told they need evidence to get a job, receive treatment from the NHS, or even to remain in the UK. 

The United States: On June 19, a House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on a bill to create a commission to develop proposals to address the continuing effects of slavery as well as consider a “national apology” for the harm it caused. It was the first such hearing in over ten years and emotions ran high. As one New York Times writer put it, the hearing “dug into the darkest corners of the nation’s history, exposing the bitter cultural and ideological divides in Washington and beyond. June 19, known as Juneteenth, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. The term is a blend of the words June and nineteenth. 

Advocates suggest a variety of options to address the social and economic fallout of slavery and racially discriminatory federal policies. For some opponents the whole idea is just too impractical. Others, like Senator majority leader Mitch McConnell, oppose reparations “for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible.” 

Many advocates suggest the issue is not limited to the injustice of slavery itself. They insist the laws, policies and practices that have allowed and continue to allow Black people’s land to be “stolen,” must be addressed. Estimates suggest as much as 11 million acres have been lost through fraud, deception, and outright theft, much of it in the past 50 years.

Explore…Luke 10:25–37

  • How do you understand the meaning of the story of the Good Samaritan in today’s world?
  • What might being a compassionate neighbour look like in the two stories above?
  • How do they challenge authority or common practice?
  • Where do you see systemic injustice that calls for redress?

God, our strength and hope, grant us the courage to look beyond our own comfortable lives and to recognize where and how we can respond to victims of unfortunate historical experience or current practices that deny them the opportunity to enjoy the blessings we take for granted. Help us to speak the truth, confront injustice, and work to bring about your reign on Earth. Amen.

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