This Advent Season starting on Sunday would be a good time for those of us who are celebrating the move of God to put things right in this world which has so much going wrong, to give our “presence” even before we start thinking about “presents” for the Christmas season. The Anti-ISA PJ Vigil (now with a police permit!) is every Sunday (8pm – 9.30pm), at MBPJ Civic Centre.
My friend Steven Sim wrote something to encourage pastors and church leaders (as well as the younger generation – hope in includes me 🙂 ) to take part in peaceful gatherings like this. He used the word priests to describe us, I’d prefer the word pastor and would be terrified with the word prophet. 🙂
For me, when I light a candle and stand with fellow Malaysians and friends to stand against what I see as unjust, I’m also practicing praying on my feet and with my eyes wide open. It’s a form of silent witnessing which complements the need for us to speak out against injustice, and speak for fairness available to all (even those we may disagree with). At this stage of my own Christian journey and understanding, I hear the quiet call of Jesus inviting me to follow him in this way as part of what it means to be a Christ-follower in Malaysia.
The end goal is not just reactive to the current context we are in, that maybe a beginning but what is needed is a glimpse, a dream and a vision of what can be, and that means we’re standing for a world that is characterized by justice, peace, mercy, respect and harmony. I believe this is in line with the vision of the Kingdom of God Jesus was talking about and inaugurating by his coming.
Apart from a little faith perspective above, the fact is there are many who have walked before us. This struggle with the ISA and related acts which results in many detained without trial has been a long and lonely journey. Those like Kak Laila who blogs at Merah Hitam would give us a realistic picture of what the struggle really means, less we slip into some romantic idea when it comes to civil disobedience and peaceful dissent (I overheard someone say “civilized disobedience”!).
So, while I’m encouraged and challenged by Steven’s words below. I’m also cautious that we do not and must not turn our participation into a “pat on my back I achieved something” or worse any self-serving interest of glamour and fame. It’s a little terrifying to have the spotlight on us pastors who are often seen by many as “six days invisible and one day incomprehensible” 🙂 For what it’s worth, I find myself humbled by Steven’s piece.
Our participation is only part of the bigger piece where educational improvements , legislative reform, grass-root movements, spiritual input, political changes, etc, all converge towards the change that we seek. Every small step, every prayer, every blog post :-) and every effort big or small, visible or invisible counts! And perhaps more importantly, my hope is our presence as pastors would open up the channels for us to hear the gentle whisper saying to the world that the God of Justice has not abandoned us! He continues to call us to walk in his will and his way today!
(Thanks to Pat Lu for the photo)
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“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
Priests at rally.
“Thus saith the LORD.” sermon in front of the city council building, reminds me of Jim Wallis and friends at the Capitol
The collared ones have dedicated their lives as servants of the Most High, choosing a path of discipleship and servant-leadership as pastors of the people of God. At times, wearing the collar means taking a counter-culture stance of obedience to god than to the socio-economic or political trends of the day.
When the collared ones walk the street in public protest of a certain issue they are not advocating any party’s political biases, but rather, they speak as prophets of the Most High, condemning by their presence and words the injustice, the indignation done to fellow humanity by the powers that be. Their message is not socialism or laissez faire, neither left nor right, neither liberal or conservative, but rather, their cries were those of Jeremiah, who spoke on god’s behalf,
“Why do you contend with me?
You have all transgressed against me, declares the LORD”
And their proposal is not to overthrow one form of government for another, at least that’s not the focal point, but rather, again speaking as god’s mouthpiece,
“Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts and I will return to you.”
That is, not a coup de etat, but an offer of a new lease of life, a second chance with god the One that matters the most. And at times, with so many choices on the menu of political ideologies, perhaps this is what we needed the most, a fresh word about politics without party, justice without vengence, love without a price-tag and life, life in abundance.
March on collared ones.
Lord, I pray for the collared ones as they live their lives in obedience to you in their vocation. May Your servants prosper, Amen.
(The priests shown in this post are the Reverend Anthony Loke and the Reverend Sivin Kit. The lady speaking behind the mike is Trisha Yeoh. These photos were taken at the PJ Anti-ISA Vigil on the 23rd November 2008 – by taken from the Reverend Sivin Kit)
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