Pray for New Malaysia

As we approach our National and Malaysia Day celebration amidst the growing anger and disillusionment with the current administration, I only have 2 prayer requests (because I am often asked about this):

– pray for success in wiping out corruption. After 9 May 2018, we are still dealing with the remnant of corruption. Some beneficiaries of the previous system will now struggle with the lack of open doors. Some new players will struggle with the sudden power at their disposal. The restructuring and reform of institutions are still on-going. ‘Malaysia Bersih’ song is now being played at every government function after the national anthem to remind the civil service of this new identity.

– pray for a new middle ground. After 9 May 2018, we are still dealing with the remnant of racism and extremism. These strongholds will pull every single policy decision and events (including accidents) to the extreme side of race and religion. The moderates and the middle ground are being accused of betraying their own race. Some political parties depend very much on these sentiment for their current survival and relevance and they still own mainstream media companies.

In our efforts to have a more inclusive Malaysia Baharu, we need to move away from fear and suspicion. Some are afraid of lights on a building resembling a cross or chinese calligraphy writings in the office of minister. Some are afraid of jawi. This is a mirror effect – guilty of the same fear we accuse another of. To remove these fears, a lot of engagement and consultation need to happen. The last 2 weeks the entire nation has been distracted. 1MDB trial has only just started. In other cases, we are still in the midst of finding traces of corruption because they hide well.

Finally, don’t be distracted. Malaysians conquered their fear and moved mountains to make 9 May happen. Our children depend so much on the decisions we make today. So much at stake. Let our kids play together again. Let them mingle beyond our comfort zone.

Move to the middle, Malaysians. Sound policies will never be made from both ends of extremism. The remnant of corruption and racism will want you to return to their ‘glorious days’ – giving in now is an act of sheer folly. Don’t allow Malaysia Baharu to break. We cannot afford it.

Hannah Yeoh
13 August 2019

The Questions of Grief

A number of metaphors are used to describe the experience of grief that follows the death of a loved one: the loss of a limb, falling into a black hole, wading through thick mud, submerged in a tidal wave, and so on. And the strange paradox about grief, is that although it is universal (every one of us will experience it at some time in our lives) every experience is uniquely personal, depending on such factors as the depth of one’s relationship with the deceased, one’s personality, upbringing, cultural background, and network of other supportive relationships.

In my case, thankfully, I have not needed medication or professional grief counselling. In the weeks following Karin’s death. I kept a private journal recording all my pain, questions, doubts and spiritual anguish. I have lost not merely a wife, but my best friend, a fellow-traveller, critic, encourager, soulmate. And all the philosophical and theological questions about suffering, evil and death which have haunted me all through my life have returned with a fresh existential intensity. Wrestling with these has been for me a kind of self-therapy.

Of course, tears blind us. Our cognitive capacities are clouded by pain and disorientation. But they can also embolden us to question so much of the conventional wisdom of our churches and cultures. Karin and I have always been irritated by the popular theological clichés regarding suffering and death: “God is in control”, “God took him/her”, “God has a purpose in this”, and so on. They smack of Marx called “false consciousness’ and Sartre “bad faith.”

Karin used to point out that so many Western books on suffering addressed the question “Why me?” posed by normally comfortable people whose lives are suddenly blighted by disease, accident or failure. But what of the vast majority of humankind, in history as well as in many parts of the world today, whose all-too-brief lives from the cradle to the grave fall so far short of the flourishing that the Creator intends for them- and often through no fault of their own? Traditional theodicies and rationalist apologetics seem so painfully glib and irrelevant.

Many Christians invoke Job in situations like this, while missing the point of the story entirely. I am bemused by references to the “patience of Job”, when a cursory reading of the book reveals a man who was anything but patient! He vigorously protests his innocence, and hurls his questions, longings and accusations of unfairness at the gates of heaven. Can this God be trusted? That is the basic question in such times. Job lives in the tension between faith and experience, shuffling back and forth but never settling for an easy resolution. This is the tradition of biblical lament. And I believe that the “problem” of suffering and evil can ultimately only be approached through honest lament and compassionate action; not by theological reasoning.

I have often been haunted by the thought that while our faith can be verified eschatologically, it can never be falsified. If we are all deluded, we will never know it. And there won’t be any answers to the big questions humanity has been asking throughout its history.

I am in the paradoxical situation of remaining utterly convinced of the bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth (for I can find no other explanation for the origins of the Christian movement); and yet struggling to make sense of how the billions of people throughout history will one day be resurrected into the new creation that has dawned in Jesus’ resurrection. Clearly bodily resurrection implies a social, collective event; for our bodies are the means by which we interact and communicate with others. And the Scriptures take for granted that we shall recognize not only our loved ones but also those who have gone before us. But how does such recognition happen, given that every part of our bodies has evolved to meet the conditions of biological life on this earth? How did Peter recognize Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration? What aspect of our embodied human nature has Christ taken into the godhead for eternity? Is it only our memories, characters and relationships that we take from this life into the next?

I have long been dissatisfied with the standard models of how mind and body interact (dualism, dual-aspect monism, non-reductionist physicalism, etc.). On this and other matters I am content to be agnostic. But when in grief, we cannot but cry out for some assurance from a good and loving God that our loved ones have not passed into oblivion but are with him, in whatever form.

The typical response of my theologian friends has been either “We have never thought of that before” or “You are asking questions we are also struggling with and for which we have no answers.” At least nobody has suggested that my questions are foolish or stemming from hubris. I know that much of theology ultimately fades into deep mystery. Christian maturity is about living with our questions, practising faithfulness to Christ even as we weep, struggle and yearn for that new world.

First published in Vinoth’s blog.

Rest in God’s faithfulness

The word trust is the heart word of faith. It is the Old Testament word, the word given to the early and infant stage of faith. The word faith expresses more the act of the will, the word belief the act of the mind or intellect, but trust is the language of the heart. Trust implies more than belief; it sees and feels, and leans upon a person, a great, true, living heart of love. The fruit of trust is rest.

So let us “trust also in him,” through all the delays, in spite of all the difficulties, in the face of all the denials, notwithstanding all the seemings, even when we cannot understand the way, and know not the issue; still “trust also in him, and he will bring it to pass.” The way will open, the right issue will come, the end will be peace, the cloud will be lifted, and the light of an eternal noonday shall shine at last.

Psalm 37 (The Voice)
A song of David.

1 Don’t be worried with evil workers
or envy the gains of people with all-wrong-upside-down ways.
2 Soon enough they will wither like grass,
like green herbs fading in summer’s heat.

3 Believe in the Eternal, and do what is good—
live in the land He provides; roam, and rest in God’s faithfulness.
4 Take great joy in the Eternal!
His gifts are coming, and they are all your heart desires!

5 Commit your path to the Eternal; let Him direct you.
Put your confidence in Him, and He will follow through with you.
6 He will spread out righteousness for you
as a sunrise spreads radiance over the land;
He will deliver justice for you into the light of the high sun.

7 Be still. Be patient. Expect the Eternal to arrive and set things right.
Don’t get upset when you see the worldly ones rising up the ladder.
Don’t be bothered by those who are anchored in wicked ways.

8 So turn from anger. Don’t rage,
and don’t worry—these ways frame the doorway to evil.
9 Besides, those who act from evil motives will be cut off from the land;
but those who wait, hoping in the Eternal, will enjoy its riches.

10 You’ll see . . . the wicked won’t know what hit them;
you’ll blink, and they’ll be gone;
you’ll go out looking for them, but you won’t find them.
11 But the humble-hearted will inherit the land;
they will take pleasure in its peace and enjoy its abundance.

Persevering faith

God’s seasons are not at your beck. If the first stroke of the flint does not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverance and importunity in supplication.

In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last.

Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God’s promises at our back.

Never let us despair. God’s time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the King delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready; you will get a light before long.

—C. H. Spurgeon

Deepening faith

God allowed the crisis to close around Jacob on the night when he bowed at Peniel in supplication, to bring him to the place where he could take hold of God as he never would have done; and from that narrow pass of peril, Jacob became enlarged in his faith and knowledge of God, and in the power of a new and victorious life.

God had to compel David, by a long and painful discipline of years, to learn the almighty power and faithfulness of his God, and grow up into the established principles of faith and godliness, which were indispensable for his glorious career as the king of Israel.

Nothing but the extremities in which Paul was constantly placed could ever have taught him, and taught the Church through him, the full meaning of the great promise he so learned to claim, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

And nothing but our trials and perils would ever have led some of us to know Him as we do, to trust Him as we have, and to draw from Him the measures of grace which our very extremities made indispensable.

Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith. When hindrances confront us in the path of duty, we are to recognize them as vessels for faith to fill with the fullness and all-sufficiency of Jesus; and as we go forward, simply and fully trusting Him, we may be tested, we may have to wait and let patience have her perfect work; but we shall surely find at last the stone rolled away, and the Lord waiting to render unto us double for our time of testing.

—A. B. Simpson

Paradise now

This was a sermon I preached 2 years ago. My church community is once again going through a spate of bad news. Rama’s article reminded me of what I had shared then.

My heart has been weighed down by the many deaths experienced in our community in recent times. I thought it would be good to speak about it.

Let me read the text to you, from the New American Standard Bible.

Luke 23: 42-43
42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

When I was in my teens, everything about being a Christian captured my attention; the church was my community and as a young Christian I was learning everything for the first time. Those days I learned about evangelism, about gifts of the Holy Spirit, about mission and sacrifice, about the Word of God.

In my teens, faith is an exciting journey and there is much to learn.

During my university years and after that working as a full-time worker with varsity students, the fact that Christ came to give life, life abundantly, was what captured my heart and mind. The idea “To be truly spiritual is to be truly human” was something that appealed very much to me.

At the same time, I was introduced to, and explored, the Christian mind; not only that there are key characteristics that define the view that the Christian has towards the world of objects and ideas, but also the assertion that Christian thought should be rational and consonant with truth.

In my varsity days, what attracted me was that faith is life affirming, and intelligent.

Now, in my 60th year, and my 48th year as a Christian, the fact that Christ has conquered death is central to my faith, or to frame it nicely,

In these later years of life, I have come to see that central to my faith is that my destiny is paradise.

The first time I had to seriously consider death in terms of my faith was when I was asked to preach at a funeral. I was in my late 30s at the time. Just a short 5 minute sharing from Scripture but I had to think hard about what is the most meaningful truth I can share to this young woman whose mother had just passed away, and who had accepted Christ on her death bed. And this was the passage I set my heart on to share:

And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

I didn’t want to bore everyone with my theology. I wanted this simple declaration by Jesus to imbue that moment of death with a much deeper meaning and a more glorious destiny.

This has stayed with me ever since. Today you shall be with Me in Paradise. What a wonderful certainty when you have to say goodbye to a loved one.

When my parents aged to the point where I could see their frailty, death once again came into my life. But for my parents, death was a friend. My father said to me, “My work is done.” And my mum many times told me that she wants her rest. And she meant her eternal rest. For them, there is nothing more that this life could offer, except weakness and pain. Because of their faith, death is a door, an opportunity, a final, wonderful blessing that they longed to embrace. And so when death came, I thanked God for his wonderful blessing.

This made me see that where we are now, what we call life, is mortal. Where Christ is, is paradise. There is a qualitative difference that Jesus emphasised in his statement: Today you will be with me in Paradise.

In conquering death, Christ does not promise us more of the same. He promises us a deeper, richer life.

Paradise to my mind is not just in terms of location, but also the quality of the life that will be ours to embrace. Our bodies, our minds, our hearts, our soul, will be made whole. How wonderful that must be. In this life we struggle with our frailties. In Paradise we glory in the marvelous and perfect handiwork of God.

CS Lewis alludes to this, calling us to think of the best fruit we have ever tasted: juicy, fresh, sweet, filling all our senses with a wonderful symphony of taste, smell and satisfaction. And then asking us to imagine what that fruit will be like when it is perfectly created as God intends, eaten by a person whose body is whole and perfect.

My brothers and sisters, heaven is a wonderful place. It is where the God of love reigns supreme, where Christ has gone to prepare a place for us all.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Between this life and life after death, there is no comparison. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain; for the old order of things has passed away.

One day when I was having lunch with a couple, after one of the husband’s treatments in hospital, I shared with them this thought: You do what is necessary as a responsible steward of the life that God has given you. You avail yourself to what is available to treat your ailment. But you also embrace the core truth of your belief: that death is a blessing; a doorway into his Presence. You are not to be careless with life, but neither should you cling to it, as if what is behind the veil is something terrifying. Indeed, what is behind the veil is a wonderful life that God has redeemed for us through the sacrifice of His Son.

In other words, our faith calls us to live with no fear of death. Indeed, Christ has transformed death to a gateway to Paradise.

But in recent times, there are others who also act out of a lack of fear of death. These days suicide bombers are a common phenomena; but to my mind, their embrace of death is out of a despair of this life. And it is this despair that makes their freedom from death destructive. Their life has convinced them that nothing good can be achieved by life, and their only recourse to significance is to destroy. They have no love of life, and so they have no qualms in taking life away from others.

This is not what Christ sacrificed himself to give us. And so our theology is not to lead us to desire the hereafter to the point of not caring for the life in the here and now.

I come that you might have life, and have it abundantly, Jesus says.

Christ came not only to give us life in Paradise, he came that we might have abundant life here on earth. How is this so? We should not take this to mean that abundant life will be handed to us; rather, the riches of our glorious inheritance in Christ gives us the basis to pursue this life with abandon, with generosity, with all our heart, soul, mind and might, because we will never be poor again. Even if we go to the grave penniless, we gain heaven’s glory on the other side. What more if in this life we are a source of blessing to others and a cause for people to give glory to God! That truly is abundant life!

How has our view of death influenced our living?

One scene in the movie The Return of the King, as King Theoden leads his men into battle against the forces of the evil Sauron, in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, captures my imagination:

On the morning of March 10, 3019, the “Dawnless Day” began. Sauron sent forth a large mass of dark and foul clouds to cover the lands of Gondor. Sauron’s purpose was to spread fear and uncertainty among his enemies, as well as to aid his dark servants; it was said that dread was one of his greatest weapons. The forces of Mordor arrived on two fronts: the army of the Lord of The Nazgûl came forth from Minas Morgul, and the other up the river Anduin from Umbar; mainly the ships of the Corsairs with Haradrim and Easterlings. On March 14, 3019, the Siege of Gondor began, and on the morning of March 15, the Army of Rohan arrived with 6000 riders.

If you have seen the movie you know that this was a pivotal moment. Although badly outnumbered, the Fellowship of the Ring needed Rohan to fight and hold off Sauron long enough for reinforcement to arrive.

Theoden, having come out of the influence of his adviser Grima, or Wormtongue as he is commonly called, led his men into the decisive battle with the cry, “Death!”

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
spear shall be shaken, shield shall be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now, ride! Ride for ruin and the world’s ending!
Death! Death! Death!
Forth Eorlingas!

Watching that scene, it became crystal clear to me: when you embrace death and you do not fear it, it frees you to do what is right and good, leaving the outcome to God. The 3 friends of Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar the king:

“Your Majesty, we will not try to defend ourselves. If the God whom we serve is able to save us from the blazing furnace and from your power, then he will. But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty may be sure that we will not worship your god, and we will not bow down to the gold statue that you have set up.”

The fear of death clouds our judgement. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, death no longer has a hold on us.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Perhaps God may call some of us to a special ministry that demands the sacrifice of our life. But for most of us that is unlikely to be the case. But the call is still the same: Do we hoard our life for fear of losing it? Or do we spend it generously because after we have gone through this life, God is there with a glorious new life in Paradise.

When we live in the light of Paradise in the hereafter, we live in Paradise now.

The Reason Christians Sing at Funerals

The following are words I spoke last week (16 October) at a Wake Service for K P Waran, the legendary Malaysian Journalist and Executive Editor at The New Straits Times, Malaysia. (I am related to him by marriage.)

I recall these words today, my 59th birthday, against the background of this verse from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 7:2):

”It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.”

What is Christian worship and why are we doing it now?

The American author Annie Dillard once compared worship to a play we have been rehearsing for 2,000 years, but haven’t worked out the kinks. We rehearse this play called Christian worship because we want to refresh our memory of our part in the Christian story. And that is what the services around a funeral are all about.

Someone we love has died. So, once again we get out our old scripts, assemble on stage and act out one more time the great and hopeful drama of how the Christian life moves from death to life. None of us is an expert at this. Some of us limp, all of us have trouble remembering our lines and many weep as they move across the stage, singing songs with titles such as these – which we will sing this evening:

Hosanna in the highest
Amazing grace
Jesus lover of my soul
Abide with me

We are who we are. Every one of us is flawed. We will never work out the kinks. But that’s not the goal. The goal is to know this story in this play so well that we know it by heart.

The Christian view of death

At death we have to move a body here and there. It is the gospel story which tells us the truth about where the “here” and the “there” are.

The good news of the Christian story says the “here” is the life we have shared in faith and the “there” is the place in the arms of God to which our brother or sister has gone.

According to those who are tutored by Christ, all of life is a journey, a pilgrimage toward “a safe lodging and a holy rest, and peace at the last.”

The Christian life, whether it is that of someone who was baptised weeks ago or decades ago, is shaped in the pattern of Christ’s own life and Death. The apostle Paul summed it up in his letter to Christians in Rome:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5)

We believe our brother has not passed away. We believe he has passed on, to what a Christian song writer called “that beautiful shore.” That is so especially powerful an expression for a sailor like Waran.

Christians believe in the resurrection of the body

Christians do not believe a dead body can “pollute” them. We will not wash ourselves before we re-enter our homes tonight or after the funeral.

Though we will cremate the body of Waran, to return him to the dust from which he, like us, is made, we believe he, together with us, will be resurrected. Our confidence lies in our belief in the resurrection of Christ.

The brilliant and much celebrated Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, for a very long time did not believe Christ was resurrected. About twenty years after he rejected belief in the resurrection of Christ, he changed his mind. He wrote:

The closing words of the Apostolic Creed in which the Christian hope of the fulfilment of life is expressed, were, as I remember it, an offence and a stumbling block to young theologians at the time my generation graduated from theological seminaries. … We were not certain we could honestly express our faith in such a formula …

The twenty years that divide that time from this have brought great changes in theological thought. … Yet some of us have been persuaded to take the stone which was then rejected and make it the head of the corner. In other words, there is no part of the Apostles’ Creed which, in our present opinion, expresses the whole genius of the Christian faith more nearly than just the despised phrase: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”

Friends, I have spoken tonight about why Christians conduct services of worship and why we have done so tonight: I said we re-enact a play about the gospel story to remind ourselves of the part we have in it. I have spoken about what Christians believe about death: I said we think it is not a passing away but a passing on, a passing to, to a better place. And I have spoken about the resurrection of Christ, something we once rejected, but has now become the centre of our faith.


I end with this brinjal, called in Tamil, kathrika. I have chosen kathrika to remind you of Waran, the son, brother, friend, boss, father, husband par excellence.

One of those who wrote tributes to Waran on Facebook said Waran would yell kathrika! when he came across something which he believed to be wrong and must be changed. As editor, he asked his writers to make changes, to make corrections.

One of the striking things about the glowing messages which have poured out about Waran is that no one said Waran is a Christian. That is so, my friends, because it was only in the last years of his life, in the last weeks of his life, that he said kathrika! to his prior beliefs about the resurrection. Waran believed Christ was raised from the dead, and he began to centre and to align his life around Christ.

Like Niebuhr and many others before him, Waran changed his mind. He asked to be baptised, to declare that he was a Christian. When you recall him, remember this too: Waran, the great story teller, chose to be part of a greater story, the Christian story.

I am indebted to Thomas Long’s book “Accompany Them with Singing: The Christian Funeral” for much of the material I have included here. I warmly commend it to you.

This article was first published in Rest Stop Thoughts

The Peace

Call: The peace of God be with you
Reply: And also with you
Together: Amen

In the midst of disquiet, the Spirit has led me to spend time on Philippians 4: 4-9.

Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice! Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—and the God of peace will walk with you. (The Voice)

Joy, I think, is a step ahead of peace. It seems to me that you cannot have joy without first being at peace. And so while Paul clearly calls on us to rejoice, he took time to show us how to find peace.

I’m sure most of us are familiar with Paul’s advice. Don’t empower anxiety. Rather, take the time to empower peace. And you do this in faith: sharing with God everything on your heart and being thankful for what has come. (I did the first but neglected the second) And as this reality grows because you empower it, you will know the peace of God who is present.

And then you move further, away from the ugliness that has caused you to cry to God in the first place, to fill your minds with the beauty that envelopes his Person. And you then bring the God of peace with you wherever you go.

It brings to my mind this simple ritual of announcing peace to another.

Call: The peace of God be with you
Reply: And also with you
Together: Amen

To be honest I usually cringe when asked to do this in church. But that is because it has been an empty ritual to me.

But in these days of my disquiet, it is the Spirit who announced peace into my gloom.

And I realised I had been caught in a spiral of anxiety and dispair because I felt that this is the appropriate response to the circumstances.

Sometimes we have to dispense with many words and explanations and just announce peace to a fellow Christian. Because no words or explanations can make the situation better. Sometimes the situation is beyond our understanding. But peace is always necessary and lifts the situation. And we need to break through our rational searching and just receive that peace that is beyond human understanding.

So I reached out and texted my friend, “The peace of God be with you.” And he replied, “Thank you very much.”

The full ritual, of course, is for my friend to reply, “And also with you.”

And that would be a step further because it not only acknowledges my need as well, but it also accepts the truth of the first announcement.

Of course I’m not going to require my friend to respond accordingly. His response is good enough for me.

But perhaps the Church needs to help one another understand the ritual and practise it meaningfully and frequently, to bring peace into each other’s heart and mind. And to share not only each other’s pain and disquiet, but also the peace of God, and the God of peace, as we both say “Amen.”

The peace of God be with you.

The fall of the corrupt (reprise)

I will take my place at the watchtower.
I will stand at my post and watch.
I will watch and see what He says to me.
I need to think about how I should respond to Him
When He gets back to me with His answer.

Eternal One (to Habakkuk):

Write down this vision.
Write it clearly on tablets, so that anyone who reads it may run.

For the vision points ahead to a time I have appointed;
it testifies regarding the end, and it will not lie.
Even if there is a delay, wait for it.
It is coming and will come without delay.

So I wrote, “Look how pompous he is!
Something is not right in his soul; he is not honest and just.
But the righteous one will live by his faithfulness.”

Indeed, wine betrays the proud man who is always restless.
He has a big appetite; it is like the deep, dark pit of the dead.
Like death, he is never satisfied.
He gathers all the nations to himself and collects all the people for his own purposes.

Will not all these nations raise up their litany of insults?
Will they not provoke him with their taunts and mockery, saying,
“Woe to him who hoards what is not his!
How long can he profit from extortion and debt?”

Will not your creditors suddenly rise up against you?
One day they will wake up and will have had enough.
Indeed, you will be their spoil!

Why? Because you have plundered many nations,
now all who remain will come and plunder you—
Because you have made bloody and violent raids over the earth
and ransacked many peoples and their villages.

Woe to him who builds his house on such evil profits,
who puts his nest up high, safe for the future, safe from disaster!

You don’t realize it, but by cutting down so many peoples,
you have brought shame on your house;
You have sinned against your own soul.

For the stone in the wall will cry out against you;
the wooden rafter will answer from the ceiling.

Woe to him who builds a city on bloodshed
and who establishes a town by injustice!

Look! Is it not because of the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies,
that all the people work for is consumed in fire
And that all the nations produce comes to nothing?

For as the waters cover the sea,
the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge
That the Eternal is glorious and powerful.

Habakkuk 2: 1-14, The Voice