A sermon script for Anti-Slavery Day

written by Bishop Alastair Redfern, chair of The Clewer Initiative

Today's Bible passages are 2 Timothy 3 v14 - 4 v5 "Be persistent – proclaim the good news" and Luke 18 v 1-8 "God will grant justice"

This week, people around the world, are observing International Anti-Slavery Day. Sadly, slavery was not totally abolished by William Wilberforce and others in 1807. In our times, we are witnessing a huge increase in modern slavery – more than 40 million people worldwide and many thousands in our own country.

The cause is a perfect storm: an increasing number of vulnerable people, desperate for money and work; a huge increase in part-time and agency work, which cannot be easily monitored; a massive demand amongst all of us for cheap goods and services – our concern is about the price not the people providing them; and a huge criminal network capturing and controlling people in order to make vast profits.

The churches have a key role. The Clewer Initiative is the Church of England’s response to modern slavery and uses the strap line ‘we see you’. Modern slavery is hidden – people like the widow in our gospel – crying out – but generally ignored by those in authority, and by most of the rest of us. Yet God longs to grant justice.

2 Timothy tells us to be persistent in our proclamation of the Gospel – good news for the poor and the oppressed. We have a message of hope and healing. We need to learn how to notice, how to respond, how to support and invite our exploited sisters and brothers to share in the blessings of God’s love.

There is a challenge in today’s gospel – will the Son of Man find faith on Earth? We are called to be people of faith – to believe in the good news for the poor and oppressed and then to act accordingly.

The Clewer Initiative provides some great resources – about spotting the signs, looking out for the homeless, helping young people and their families caught up in county lines, taking appropriate action to combat this terrible crime, and offering hope and grace to those being so cruelly brutalised.

Let us ask for God’s guidance to be strong in our faith, to be persistent in proclaiming the good news for the poor and the oppressed, and to pledge ourselves to play our part in helping all of our communities to begin to take steps to become slavery free.

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