As we launch our resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019, we take this reflection from those materials, originating from the churches of Indonesia. The Indonesian churches speak out of a context of ethnic and religious diversity, and where there is a strong emphasis upon the need for a unity that is found in diversity, and one built on solidarity and collaboration. Yet they also highlight issues of economic injustice and how religious pluralism can face challenges in the face of radicalisation.
This gives us an opportunity to reflect upon the context in which we pray for Christian unity. How do divisions in our society contribute to divisions in the Church? How does injustice in our British and Irish contexts create challenges in pursuit of our shared life together?
In our polite conversation and edgy discourse, we fool ourselves into thinking we are making a difference. We faithfully gather, but are we just acting, waiting, for the others to speak up as we wash our hands? Click To Tweet
Woes on the Pharisees and the Experts in the Law
When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.
“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”
Luke 11:37-44 (NRSV)
God of all,
you have shown us the path of justice.
You are the father of the orphan.
You are the constant companion of the widow.
You are the friend of the stranger.
In each of these,
may we meet you
and recognize the wind of your Spirit,
moving us toward the need for justice.
In all that we do,
may we know your grace and mercy
and offer healing and justice in your name.
At the table
empty plates, but for a few crumbs.
Everyone’s had their fill again,
at least for now.
Turning on the taps
we fill our bowls,
in the hope that the stains will disappear.
The water cascades
of any sign of human contact,
as if there had never been a meal.
In our polite conversation
and edgy discourse,
we fool ourselves
into thinking we are making a difference.
We faithfully gather,
but are we just acting,
for the others to speak up
as we wash our hands?
God rejects the worship of those who neglect justice. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus reminds us that the outward sign of true worship of God is acting justly. Christians can sometimes be very committed to prayer and worship, but less concerned for the poor and the marginalised. When, as Christians, we work together on justice issues we grow closer to one another and to God.
This reflection is based on the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019