The Advent season which starts on Sunday (November 30, 2008) 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, which I hope 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!
Pastors At The Vigil
Photo Credit : Pat Lu