St Paul’s, Cambridge – 19th March 2017
Reading – Luke 4:14-30
Thanks for inviting me – St. Paul’s has been a great support to Amos and it’s good to look back with thanks over 30 years since the founding of Amos.
It makes me think, what is Amos’ manifesto – what is our foundation? Amos started in a practical way to enable me to visit places like Poland in the communist years; Mathari Valley, Kenya; Uganda – and I would come back and tell the stories to churches, colleges, anywhere that asked.
After a time of developing friendships the Amos Trustees decided to make an ongoing link with some of the places and to work with them as partners – supporting small projects. Those relationships proved to be very important and have helped to guide the development of Amos over the last 30 years.
But what has been the Amos manifesto and the guiding principles – there are certain passages of the Bible we particularly turn to.
It’s been a thirty year pilgrimage with Amos Trust, initially enabling me to visit situations around the world where I was invited, and then go back writing songs and telling stories – and that continues.
But it has been a pilgrimage of evolution for Amos – the next significant step was saying we will support partners around the world, and we found this meant that we learned even more from those partners. Read more…
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I love the words of our reading from Isaiah chapter 9: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined.“
Then the words go on to talk about joy being increased because “the yoke of their burden… and the rod of the oppressor you have broken. All the boots of the tramping warriors, all the garments rolled in blood should be burned as fuel for the fire.”
Amos the journey – where we have come from
The first event I did this year – in the New Year was at the headquarters of the Dalit Solidarity Network in Delhi in India. I sang and I spoke under a portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar.
Ambedkar was a most significant player in Indian politics; a Dalit who rose up to become the chair of those who put together the Indian Constitution.
On Christmas Eve I had stood at a Buddhist meditative centre dedicated to Ambedkar right opposite the Taj Mahal – over the Yamuna river.
On the wall outside were the words that Ambedkar wrote to explain his reasons for conversion from Hinduism to Buddhism. It is couched in the shape of twenty-two oaths that he took, and he starts off by saying:
‘I remember when I was a kid seeing Garth Hewitt on stage. He was banging on about Christians having a heart for the poor and saving the world and frankly I didn’t get any of it. Garth has always been ahead of his time and we are all catching up with what God has been saying through Garth for the last 30 years. I wish I had listened closer, but it sometimes takes a lifetime to recognise a true prophet. It is people like Garth who make us look at the world differently and realise what it is to be a true Christian.’
– Martin Smith (Delirious?)