Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

Christ's Co-Workers for Justice and Peace: Sermon at Closing Prayer

Academic journal article The Ecumenical Review

Christ's Co-Workers for Justice and Peace: Sermon at Closing Prayer

Article excerpt

Peace be with you. I greet you all as companions on the way--followers of Jesus, the crucified and risen one.

When I was first asked to preach this homily to you today--I felt deeply honoured--but that feeling soon gave way to fear, if not terror--how could I possibly have something worthwhile to say at the end of this great Assembly? Would God give me the words to say--words of Life--words that would indeed lead us towards Justice and Peace? Often, God's Holy Spirit is the one who disturbs us when we are comfortable and comforts us when we are disturbed. Can I, too, disturb and comfort you in God's name? After my fear subsided a little, I decided that I would do what I have done before, which was to write to all my friends--people of all faiths and no faith--including my Facebook friends, asking them to share with me their reflections on this passage from their own contexts across the world. God is not limited in the way wisdom is delivered to the human family. For example I regularly read my NRSV Bible downloaded free on my Samsung phone.

How has been your experience of this Assembly? We all came with our own expectations. How was your spiritual state as you arrived--what has happened to you in these days and how are you now? Was it a roller coaster or rather steady? Which stories have imprinted on your souls and pierced your heart? What made you angry? What will you never forget about the 10th Assembly? I pray that all of us will leave here inspired by God's Holy Spirit to be Christ's co-workers in the struggle for justice and peace.

How are things in your life, your family, your local church, your denomination, your society, your country? What is your gender? Do you come from a place of conflict? Do you see yourself as a member of a majority or a minority, tribally, racially, linguistically, sexually? Are Christians a minority or a majority in your land? Do you see yourself and your people as bystanders, victims or victimizers or would we dare to admit we could be all three at the same time, even if in very different measure?

We all come to Scripture from the context of our own lives, as well as the way we have heard passages of scripture interpreted in Bible studies and from preachers and, most importantly, from how the living God has spoken to us at different stages of our own lives. We began this Assembly with the account of the resurrection just before this passage from Luke. It was the first time in my life I heard the gospel sung in Aramaic--as the scholars tell us--the language that Jesus spoke. That passage set the tone for our journey during these days.

Now we continue looking at today's passage: Luke 24: verses 36-49. One of the first things that struck me is how much emotion permeates the passage. When Jesus appeared to the disciples, they didn't recognize him. They were blinded by their overwhelming grief. Any of us who have lost those we love dearly, know what it means to be overcome, even consumed by grief. Some never manage to pick up their lives again. I know for myself that losing a limb is like losing a loved one. Having lost both my hands, not to mention one eye, has meant that grief is a permanent dimension of my own life. On a lighter note, some of my friends told me I was always one-eyed.

Verse 37 says that the next time when Jesus appeared they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Interestingly, two of them had already seen the Risen Christ but it had not taken away their doubt. "While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering ..."

On our life journey, ambivalence, doubt and contradictions are not unusual experiences and exist within the journey of faith. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. Years ago, a friend said to me, "I can see contradictions in what you say!". "So?" I responded. Even as we grow in faith and confidence in God it is normal to have times of doubt and uncertainty. …

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