Thursday, 21 March 2013

Passionate Spirituality 10 - Social Action

The Sore Thumb: Luke 19:28-40 Passionate Spirituality: Social Action

When we grow in our passionate spirituality it means becoming more attuned to the heart of God. Thus the things that offend the heart of God become more offensive to us and we will find ourselves wanting to act for social justice.

Our awareness of social injustice is like a sore thumb. How?

Irritation: When we have a sore thumb we try our hardest not to knock it or catch it on things. And guess what? The more you try to guard it, protect it, forget it – the more often you bash it, catch it and have it jump painfully into the forefront of our consciousness. It just won't let us alone.
Safe in the cinema, sitting down – it makes you spill your popcorn. It catches on your pocket if you try to wander casually. It bashes on the bannister. It presses the wrong lift button. You can't get your gloves on so your hands get cold. You can't pick up the credit card you dropped. Irritating!
An awareness of social justice won't leave us alone either.
Walking down the street we become aware of the unkempt house, the broken water main, the littering, the second homes, the discarded syringes and we feel provoked to love those who are struggling. We feel prompted to pray for them. We feel prompted to act. Maybe not the first time, or the second – but in the end we will be unable to stop ourselves.
Jesus enters Jerusalem because the people needed a saviour. Hosanna! The Lord Saves.
Because we love God we will welcome the irritation.

Limitation: Grab, grasp, grip, hold, handle, hang on – all these words and phrases are used to signify being in control of ourselves or our situation, obtaining things for our own well-being or preservation. It's a good thing. It's what we have been brought up, educated, trained to become. But it can get “out of hand”!
With our “sore thumb” of social justice, we find it much harder to be grasping in desperation for our own survival or our own needs. In fact its much easier, much more comfortable to be “open handed” - to offer up rather than to hold tight.
As we become more aware of the poor, the refugee, the homeless, the addict, the victim, the foolish and all those who are unable to cope with the pressures of the society that we have helped to create. We will be unable to walk by on the other side of the road, holding on to our extra coat, blanket, food, cash. When the government tries to create help for the poor to buy houses we will realise that the rich and greedy will be able to hijack this help – and we assume that, in our society, they will – but we will not be able to. We won't be able to grasp the best for ourselves. Our sore thumb will get in the way.
Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey because the people needed a humble king. Hosanna! The Lord Saves.
Because we love God we will embrace the limitation.

Manifestation: What have you done to your thumb? When people see an injury or even the bandage, they want to ask how it happened. That's why people have skin shade plasters – or bright blue dinosaur ones if you want sympathy. We like to cover up our weaknesses and hurts. With out heightened awareness of society's illness we will be asked more and more “How on earth did you get to be like that?”. You may well stick out like a sore thumb. Woolly liberal. Holier than thou. Twit.
And some may see it as our own carelessness or foolishness on display.
Worried too much about the poor and bit my nail too far. Making soup for the homeless I tried to clean the liquidiser blade. Wanting to brighten up someone's life I trimmed the flower stalks with the bread knife. Building a shelter I hit my thumb with a hammer.
People often don't like it. They take it as an attack. Are you saying that I didn't love my neighbour? I voted for my own interests? I read the wrong newspaper? I am culpable too? Who told you to do all this anyway?
That's the question. That's what we need to ask. The answer is, as always, Jesus.
Jesus enters Jerusalem with a children's parade because the people needed to be released in praise. Hosanna! The Lord Saves.
Because we love God we will celebrate the manifestation.

Lord we pray that you would irritate us, limit our freedom to be selfish, and help us to be a manifestation of your love for all your needy children. Amen,

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