Belonging and believing: sermon for Sunday 22 October 2017: Proper 24 (Year A, RCL)

Scripture Readings: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Matthew 22:15-22

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Joseph Andrew Crisci, whom we baptised today, has a Scottish mother, and an Italian father, but he was born and will grow up in Spain. He is also, as his mother reminded me the other day, a citizen of Europe. And today we baptised him in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Scottish, Italian, Spanish, European, Christian- Joseph is a young man who already has many different identities.

We all of us have different, overlapping, identities. But some people feel threatened by the notion of different identities. They say that you cannot have one identity, but also claim to have another. When that happens, the results can be horrific.

Last week, I visited two small rooms in a house in Amsterdam. An hour’s flying time from Inverness Airport, and during the lifetime of my parents, eight people, including two children, hid in those two rooms in order to save their lives. They had to go into hiding simply because they were Jewish. For in a speech at the Concertgebouw concert hall in 1941, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the Nazi ruler of the German occupied Netherlands, had stated ‘We do not consider the Jews to be members of the Dutch nation. The Jews for us are not Dutch’. That Jews had been part of Dutch society for centuries made no difference whatsoever. Having a Jewish identity was, the Nazis said, incompatible with being Dutch- or, for that matter, Belgian, French, Danish, or German.

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