I just finished the reading for the day from “Common Prayer.” What a great resource for thinking about social justice in a faith context! Traditional prayers and songs are interspersed with stories about saints of old and contemporary saints–all people who sought to do what they could to help all people live free and unimpeded lives.
Today’s prayer in “Common Prayer” began by marking the 17th anniversary of the Hebron Massacre, the day when a Jewish settler entered a mosque in Hebron, Israel, and opened fire on worshipers. Twenty nine Muslims died that day. The paragraph ends with this statement:
“It is a reminder that extremists of all faiths have distorted the best that our faiths have to offer, and it is our prayer that a new generation of extremists for love and grace will rise up.” (p.158)
“Extremists for love”…Several years ago I ran across a definition of love by Christian ethicist Beverly Harrison that transformed my understanding of the word. She said (I’m paraphrasing a bit): “love is the power to act each other into well-being.” My favorite thing about this definition is that action is central to it. To quote another old saying, “Love is something you do.”
Maybe that’s part of what connects social justice and church–the impetus for it. Why work to ensure that all people are able to live free and unimpeded lives? Because of love, the power to act others into well-being.
Two more things from today’s “Common Prayer”… “Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.'” So, doing is important. Doing the BIG thing isn’t always necessary. And sometimes doing the big thing–if done for the wrong reasons–isn’t even as helpful as the small thing, if the small thing is done out of love.
Today’s “Common Prayer” reading ended with this prayer: “Today, Lord, help us make our lives an offering of quiet commitment to thread love through the torn garments of society. Amen.”
That might be the best defintiion of social justice I’ve heard…a commitment to “threading love through the torn garments of society.”
Got your sewing kit?
Peace for your journey…
P.S. you can find an online version of “Common Prayer” at http://www.commonprayer.net