KUALA LUMPUR: In the KualaLumpur Archdiocese, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was celebrated on Thursday, Jan 17.
The two-hour gathering, hostedby Crossway Community Lutheran Church, was a reminder for Christians of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John17:21).
The 2019 theme, Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue …was inspired by Deuteronomy16:18-20.
The evening was attended by heads and representatives of various Christian denominations. From the Catholic Church, HisEminence, Anthony Soter Car-dinal Fernandez, Archbishop ofKuala Lumpur Most Rev JulianLeow and Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam were pre-sent.Host pastor Rev Marcus Leongin his introductory speech said,“As Christians from separatedcommunities, we gather here topray for unity.
This (year’s) themeis imperative due to the recurring situations that bring divisions and conflicts. As we pray together, weare reminded that our calling asmembers of the body of Christ isto pursue and embody justice. Our unity in Christ empowers us to take part in the wider struggle for justice and to promote the dignity of life.”Methodist pastor Rev Tan ChewMae, Presbyterian pastor Rev Richard Tok and Anglican priestRev Joshua Ong took turns torecite the prayer of repentance.The Gospel according to Luke(4:14-21) was read by Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church’s Rev.Mathew Punnose.
Council of Churches Malaysiageneral secretary Rev Dr Her-men Shahstri, during his sermon,reminisced about a conference inVancouver Canada in 1983 whereArchbishop Rev Desmond Tutuwas asked, “If a church can makea difference in the world so filledwith insurmountable injustice.”To which Tutu replied: “Whenthe church is divided, injusticethrives and the world wins.
Whenthe church is united on Gospel im-peratives of justice, the power ofoppression will be dethroned inthe name of Jesus Christ, the lightof the world”.Rev Hermen went on to sharehow this year’s theme of puttingthe dimension of justice back atthe heart of Christian thinking isapt as the whole bible is a mes-sage of God’s righteous will andthe compelling exercise of justicefor all humanity.
“We cannot compromise, Jesusdoes not allow his disciples tocompromise on Kingdom values.We pray the Lord’s prayer in manylanguages and in many differentcontents. That shows the diversityand it’s no threat to unity. We canlive with it but if the Lord’s prayeris not lived out in just living, thenit threatens the very core of whatit means to be Christian. Chris-tians that pray the Lord’s Prayerpledge their allegiance to Christwho promised, he had come, soyou may have life and live in itsabundance.”
Most Rev Julian Leow sharedthe Word of Exhortation after thesermon, in which he reminded the250 strong congregation that thereare many injustices right here inMalaysia.“We all know from experience,trying to get into universities,quota systems, trying to purchaseproperties and you don’t get spe-cial discounts. Employment, it isdifficult to get into certain sectors– army, police and the list can goon, there is so much social injus-tice. But here we are.
I would like us to look within our selves. Am I acting justly? Am I loving ten-derly? Am I walking humbly withthe Lord?“It is good to look at myselffirst, whether I am living justice.Am I pursuing not only justiceoutside but am I living it in myown life? Am I behaving? Am Iprospering my neighbour? Or amI too busy accumulating just formyself? And so, justice and onlyjustice we must pursue.”Archbishop Leow went on toask if we should be seeking retrib-utive justice as in an eye for an eyeor seek restorative justice to givejustice to the weak, the orphan,the lonely, the destitute “Why are there the poor and homelesson the streets of Kuala Lumpur?What am I doing as Church, look-ing after my neighbour?
Are we asChurch doing enough?“Am I out doing one another indoing good? Whether I see myneighbour as someone better thanme or am I also in this competi-tive dog-eat-dog society, even inthe Church?“
Let us as a Church today, praythat we pursue restorative justicenot retributive – not an eye for aneye.
There will be blind and hand-icapped people walking aroundthe world if we go along that line.9-11 (Sept 11, 2001) has shownus peace can only be achievedthrough forgiveness. What ifGeorge Bush had forgiven? Wouldwe be in a safer place today? Be-cause of retributive justice, I thinkwe are worse off today.
The spiralof violence, violence begets vio-lence.“The only answer I believe,though it may be naïve, is loveconquers all.
The best way to getrid of your enemy is to love themto death.”There were also melodious per-formances by an Indonesian choirfrom Gereja Kristian Bahasa In-donesia, the Cantus Musicus andThe Ruth Education Centre Choirmade up of Myanmar refugeeyouths.The evening ended with thepriests and pastors praying ablessing over the congregationfollowed by a light supper and fel-lowship. — By Gwen Manickam
Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online