What is God
doing in the world? What are we called to do in the world?
be used as a synonym for social or political activism. Although
these may be an expression of justice, for Christians, the definition
is rooted in spirituality: justice is aligning our intention with
God's intention. When we are in harmony with God's intention, we
are in shalom. This Hebrew word is God's gift of wholeness
in community, a social reality where there is enough for all, forgiveness
abounds, people live in harmony, and there is respect for creation.
Shalom is based on a triad of worship, righteousness, and
We don't have
to look far to see that the world is out of alignment. Justice begins
with our prayerful discernment of God's intention for ourselves,
our community, the Church, the world, and creation. If we believe
that God's ultimate desire is for shalom then we will be
partners with God in bring that about.
services in Lent at Creekside, we have expanded our pattern of intercessory
prayer, to include prayer for our neighborhood, nation, and world,
as well as ourselves and those whom we care about. We should be
careful what we pray for: praying for God's intention is more than
hoping that God will fix what is broken. It means we are open to
the Holy Spirit calling us to action. The cliché is "putting
your money where your mouth is," but righteous action may mean
more than money. Donations to local or distant charities or service
organizations are certainly appreciated, but Jesus modeled justice
which was personal: touching, healing, serving by example. The most
formative experiences involve personal contact with those who are
helpless, hurting, or in need. Ask anyone who has accepted the call
to volunteer service, been on a disaster relief trip, or provided
childcare after a natural disaster-sometimes we get more than we
give when we make time to serve others in Christ's name.
There are many
needs in the world; it is not our task to meet them all. But if
we remain open to the Spirit's urging for justice, we may find ourselves
in a place that will change us.
Take 10 minutes
or so each day this week to pray and prepare for Holy Week. The
following structure may be helpful:
Find a quiet
place where you can be focused.
Offer prayers of thanksgiving, especially for the life and witness
of Jesus Christ.
Pray for yourself and those you care about.
Pray for your community and for your neighbors.
Pray for the church in all places, and those who speak in Christ's
Pray for all those who suffer as a result of violence or war.
Being of service
to others is part of Christian formation. The Beatitudes remind
us that the way we act toward others-with meekness, righteousness,
purity of heart, as peacemakers-- will have a profound effect on
who we become. It is one of the ways which we claim our identity
as the children of God (Matthew 5:1-11)
What we ask
God for in prayer says a great deal about what's important to us.
We may not immediately think of prayer as a practice of justice,
but if we believe that prayer forms us, then we should pay attention
to what we are being formed by. If our prayers of intercession are
exclusively for our health problems or those of our immediate family,
then we have made God's love too narrow, and we have made ourselves
less available to the Spirit.
and individuals have practiced a structure of intercessory prayer
which goes further than the one we have been using at Creekside.
They practice praying around the world: choosing a nation or region
which is the specific focus of their prayer time. There is a regular
rotation, or the area is announced in advance to give opportunity
for pray-ers to be better informed, should they choose to look at
news or other sources.
The most radical,
and most difficult, form of intercessory prayer is praying for enemies.
Praying for those who have hurt you or those you love, or those
with whom you disagree is an act of grace that is nearly impossible,
if we attempt it at all. That Jesus would command it is challenging.
That he could practice it himself while dying on a cross is amazing.
This week, as
you prepare for Holy Week and Easter, take time to pray for people
all around the world: those who have embraced Jesus' death and resurrection,
those who do not believe, and those who have yet to hear the story.
They are all children of God, people with whom we are called to
live in shalom until God's intention for creation is fully
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