March 25, 2007 was the 200th anniversary of Britain’s abolition of the slave trade, as depicted in the movie, Amazing Grace. About the same time, the United States also abolished the importation of additional slaves, though sadly, the buying, selling and owning of slaves continued within our country for nearly another sixty years.
A complaint some people have about the movie is that it underplays the religious motives of William Wilberforce and his comrades. Without being called by their religion, they would not have struggled so long against such entrenched interests. The New Church doctrine was central to the efforts of Carl Bernhard Wadström, who helped recruit Wilberforce to the cause. He also made engravings of slave ships so that the public could see their cruel inhumanity.
On the other hand, a terrible aspect of the slave trade was the way religion and the Bible were twisted to justify slavery. Passages were read as showing that God meant blacks to be slaves. The Bible can be used to support almost anything if we read it to justify ourselves instead of to seek the word of God.
Abuse of the Word is at the heart of the events of Good Friday. The Lord was the Word made flesh; He was everything good and true in Person. He allowed those things to be done to Him partly so that we could see what becomes of mankind when we pervert the Word.
But on Easter the Lord rose again. He gave us the New Testament, providing us a truly Human vision of our God, teaching us to love one another as He has loved us.
Whenever we imprison ourselves in evil and false ideas, eventually, at the right time, the Lord comes again to liberate those who are willing to follow Him. He gives us the truth to make us free, so that we may not be the slaves of sin (John 8:31-32). Let us apply the truth courageously to our own attitudes and habits so that the Lord may set us free, and we may learn to love one another, following His example.
You are warmly invited to services on Thursday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. and on Easter at 10:00 a.m. See www.KemptonNewChurch.org for more information.
Rev. Lawson M. Smith