Last weekend I ran an event for TEAR Australia called “Come Out, My People!”: Learning to Journey Out of Empire. It featured, among others, my friends Wes Howard-Brook and Sue Ferguson Johnson speaking about the reality of empire in the Bible and in the world. They spoke about the need to discern God’s call to come out of empire and embody an alternative way of life.
This is a prayer I composed for the evening. It is a prayer for those of us living in the midst of empire who are trying to follow God’s call out of it. All present prayed it together, and I thought it may help others who are trying to live in God’s shalom amid the brutality of empire.
Creator and Sustainer God,
we cry out to you from Babylon,
from empire built upon the land of people both like us and different to us,
from empire made possible by the murders and injustices of past and present.
We recognize that you have called us out of empire.
Out of a spirituality of domination and oppression.
Out of a story of exclusion and competition that leads to violence.
Out of the worship of false gods that demand our praise and obedience.
You have called us to be part of a radical alternative to empire.
Called to a spirituality of shalom and justice.
Called to the biblical story of embrace and welcome that leads to peace.
Called to the worship of the God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead.
And you have sent us into empire, in the world.
To witness to another way of justice, mercy and faithfulness.
To transform the slave economy that violates the bodies of both rich and poor and the earth itself.
To take the time necessary in a speed-addicted world to be friends, lovers, parents, carers, gardeners, advocates and peacemakers.
Creator God, our refuge and strength,
we confess we are complicit in the evils of our age.
Breathe on us as we commit ourselves to the way of Christ individually and as a community
to live in your story for the world;
to take up the heavy cross that we cannot bear alone;
to struggle for peace and justice;
to seek fullness of life for all creation;
to pray for your kingdom come.
Matt Anslow, July 2013
Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting (the ninth month in the Islamic calendar) whereby Muslims cease eating, drinking and sexing it up between dawn and sunset. It is both an act of devotion and good exercise in patience and humility.
Our aim in doing Ramadan was primarily that we would be able to use it as a means of having contact with local Muslims that we might become friends and also that we might engage in some form of inter-religious dialogue. Such dialogue is, in my view, extremely important, given the perception of Islam in much of the Western world over the past decade, and particularly its perception in my neck of the woods (Cronulla… remember the riots, anyone?).
But having crossed the halfway mark late last week, I realised that Ramadan is teaching me more than I bargained for. Maybe it’s best if I just list some of the things I am learning and experiencing: Keep Reading…