A couple of weeks ago I spent my Saturday at the Joint Public Issues Team Conference in Manchester, and as well as staffing the SCM Stall and catching up with many Methodist friends, I had the chance to attend two of the workshops. In the first, the team explored generational justice issues comparing Millennials to Baby Boomers, and it was interesting to hear stories from Generation X in the middle. The second workshop was about worship and justice (entitled Don’t Pray in a Room Without Windows), which encouraged us to make our worship open our minds to justice issues. Since then I've been thinking about prayer and worship a lot, exploring how worship needs to flow into our lives and how our lives and the justice of the world needs to be flowing back into our acts of worship.
Somewhere recently I’ve heard someone talk about 'Amen', and that Amen means 'so be it' but can also mean 'so what am I going to do about it?' in the way that prayers are often boomerangs.
This was in my head on Good Friday, when after reading Mark 15:1-15 which ends “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”, the reader said 'Amen'.
It isn’t unusual for someone to do this, and for me it was the most powerful moment of the Good Friday Service. ...and handed him over to be crucified. So be it. I know this story so well that I often forget the harshness of the flogging and death because I know that there is a happy ending full of joy and celebration on Easter Sunday. But in that moment on that Friday it felt real, I was open to the stark nature of death and I went on to question my response. So be it - so what am I going to do about it? Do I live with that death as part of my identity in Christ? How often do consider that what I'm doing harms the body of Christ? I often hark back to my childlike confession prayers, "God, you know what I did, I know you forgive me.". I think about grace, that as long as I’m sorry then it will all be OK. And I am sorry for the times I hurt others.
Yesterday I stole a train ride. I didn’t mean to, and to be honest I only got caught when I went to buy a ticket mid-journey. I spent a lot of yesterday feeling bad, trying to justify it by saying that I just hadn’t had chance to get a ticket before my journey started, and didn’t think to buy one on my phone. That bothered me more than most of the justice issues I ignored yesterday, but perhaps it shouldn't have. Maybe I should have been more bothered about going to a shop to buy lunch that came in a plastic wrapper rather than bringing something from home in reusable containers, and not thinking about my impact on the environment. I should have been more bothered that I did nothing more than smile at the homeless people I walked past, rather than stopping to talk to them or buying them a drink. Where was my worship in those situations?
Loving God, we confess that we don’t see the world with your eyes but with our own selfish ones. Forgive us for when we act and speak and think in a way that leads to more injustice rather than less. Forgive us when we don’t act or speak or think in a way makes this world a place more full of your love. Guide us and lead us, that with eyes wide open we can be your people. Amen, so be it, so what am I going to do about it?