Thought for the Day : Thursday 6 May

Thought for the Day by Bob Shaw

Reading: 1 Peter 2:11-25

Today’s NT reading from 1 Peter was sent to some mainly Gentile slaves who were suffering intense persecution in Asia Minor. The writer has clearly decided not to challenge the dominance of slavery within the political and economic structure of the Roman Empire. To have done so might have resulted in the total annihilation of the early church outside Judea. This might explain why the readers of this letter are being encouraged to follow the self-sacrificial example of Jesus by offering obedient service to their masters as well as honouring the Roman Emperor. This sounds totally unacceptable to us today. Surely there can be no excuse for slavery but perhaps we should be thankful that those Gentile slaves grew in such numbers that the Christian church eventually became the worldwide body of which we are members today instead of remaining simply a Jewish sect?

Today as you all know is Election Day here in Leeds and country-wide where we are free to vote for city councillors and a new Mayor of West Yorkshire. We tend to take our universal suffrage for granted but we might recall that less than 100 years ago women in this country were not allowed to vote and less than 200 years ago there were people here with no rights at all because slavery had not yet been abolished. Civil rights have taken hundreds of years to become established and so today we should be thankful for the likes of Emily Pankhurst, William Wilberforce, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and all others who have taken a courageous stand against inequality. On this Election Day we have an opportunity to reflect on these positive achievements and to be thankful for our own freedom. We need political leaders who are committed to the elimination of modern slavery such as trafficking and other forms of human exploitation. Of course we also need political leaders who will prioritize the mitigation of environmental pollution which is already affecting the very poorest of people on our planet.

Today we might also give thanks for the Christian devotion of our sovereign Queen Elizabeth who, unlike Emperor Nero and dictators like him, deserves our honour because she has kept her promise and given us such a precious example of selfless service to all of her people here and throughout the Commonwealth. She is deserving of our continuing prayers particularly after the death of her consort Prince Philip.

Today and every day we can say ‘Thank you’ to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our ‘Wounded Healer’, who gave up his life for the freedom of all humanity and the redemption of all creation. The bottom line is that we have all been called by Him to love God our Heavenly Father and all of our neighbours as we love ourselves. Let us therefore respond with generosity.

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