I was asked to lead a 5-minute 'reflection' at our annual General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches this morning.
There were a number of topics that could have provided the focus. It is 17th April. It is Palm Sunday, it is the day on which the Irish Republic gained independence in 1949, it is the date on which the 350-year war between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly ended (in 1986). And it is Victoria Beckham's birthday.
So many topics to choose from.
Palm Sunday is a day in which millions of people across the world remember the triumphant entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. The people stood in the streets to celebrate his arrival. Matthew wrote of the laying of palms and cloaks in his path. The Jewish saviour had arrived.
Only one week later, the people had forgotten this moment. They feared for their own lives and turned against Jesus. They allowed the Romans to execute him. Not perhaps to deliberately harm him, but to save themselves from persecution. There are of course many messages in here – but for me the strongest one is the recognition of the frailty of the human condition. Can anyone of us say we would have stood up to the Romans in support of a good man?
We are all human. We all have weaknesses. Despite our best efforts we can and do fail.
Our annual General Assembly is a wonderful time to gather and celebrate Unitarianism, and to remember the great news we can take to the world. The joy of living ‘Unitarianly’.
And the simple way to begin is to remember to value all humans, and all life in this world around us. The love and support we can give to all is surely integral to our worship of life, of that which holds us together, of the great reality that binds. Of God. This is perhaps a good time to remind ourselves of the golden rule. That one about treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
We should look down on no-one. We should treat all humanity as worthy of our love and good wishes. And this is often harder then we would expect. Of course it is true that we must give our love and support to the oppressed and the rejected. But perhaps the tragic story of Jesus after Palm Sunday might also remind us of the need to love all. The popular of today are the possible oppressed of tomorrow. We must love all humanity - with no exception.
We should never look down. Today, let us look up instead.
Happy Birthday Victoria.