But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.
Today, Living Lent asks us to ponder how we might speak out prophetically without being pushed to the fringes of society.
When thinking about this, it reminded me of a time a few years ago when I happened to be in Trafalgar Square in central London. It is always very busy and noisy there. My attention was drawn to a preacher who, despite the noises of traffic and people, was managing to make himself heard to many. His passionate and very loud delivery of his message consisted of him telling as many of us as he could how terrible things are, that we were all sinners, and that we were doomed unless we repented etc.
As I walked away, I was saddened by what I had heard. It really made me think. What if that was the first time someone had heard ‘the message’. How would they feel? What would their impression of God be?
Now, I am not saying that we are all perfect, and that there is nothing we need to repent of, but personally, I believe that the message our world desperately needs to hear is that of God’s unconditional love, hope and compassion. I believe that, rather than fearing being pushed to the fringes of society, as Christians it is our calling to actively seek out the fringes of society with God’s message of love and renewal.
The good news is that there are lots of ways in which the church is doing just that. National organisations and initiatives such as food banks and street pastors work alongside those who are vulnerable, and many local churches run activities or schemes tailored to the needs of their area.
Our church council, who we are asked to pray for today, are the people within our church empowered to make decisions on behalf of us all. We pray that at the forefront of all that they do is a desire to reach as many people as possible with the message of God’s love and compassion, and that as a church, as a community, as individuals, we may work to create opportunities and situations that allow us to demonstrate this love and compassion in practical and relevant ways.
There are many ways to ‘speak out’. God’s message is effectively preached with a cup of tea, a smile, a handwritten note or a practical gesture. We all have ways in which we can ‘speak out’ message of love, hope and compassion.
Francis of Assisi is said to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”
In what ways could you do it?
Ponder… How might we speak out prophetically without being pushed to the fringes of society?
Pray… FOR OUR COMMUNITY Pray for our church council, that they might have wisdom in the decisions they make on behalf of the church community. FOR THE WORLD Pray for all of those who hold power and make decisions on behalf of others. Pray for democracy in countries throughout the world.
Act… Say thank you to someone for who they are or what they do.