Script Monday 20 January 2014
Slavery is a curse on humanity that has not entirely gone away. Human trafficking, enforced prostitution and mental imprisonment still happen today, even here in Britain.
Solomon Northup was a free man who lived quietly in upstate New York until he was lured away and sold into slavery. His story is told in the film 12 Years a Slave, a visceral and heart rending account of the extent to which slavery harmed all who were caught up in it. Not only were slaves brutally treated, slave owners descended to a shocking level of depravity in order to maintain the system.
It is five years to the day since Barak Obama was inaugurated as President of the United States. At his inauguration he spoke about how his own father would have been barred from many public places even a generation ago. The idea of an African American rising to the heights of the Presidency was almost unthinkable until recently.
So much has been achieved but much still needs to be done. Our own freedom actually depends on the liberation of others. That is what Northup’s story tells us.
When Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, he reserved a special place at the inauguration for his jailers. His liberation was also theirs.
The legacy of slavery and oppression lingers on, haunting us with a cruel past that disfigured all those involved. Working to overcome slavery and oppression will make better people of all of us.
Lord Jesus Christ, you were cruelly beaten as a prisoner and executed as an innocent man; and yet you spoke words of forgiveness from the cross. Teach us the grace that enlarges our humanity and remakes the world. Amen.