On Sunday 23rd of February candles were lit across Australia to remember and mourn for Reza Berati who was killed whilst being held in detention on Manus Island. This outpouring of grief by thousands of Australians is an indication of the depth of concern that many within the community hold about the current policies attached to ‘stopping the boats’.
In response to this outpouring I heard a critique asking where were the vigils then people drowned at sea, as if 1 person dying is a better outcome than the hundreds at sea. for me, neither is acceptable, and I am aware that alongside many other ministers around the country there has been a constant outpouring of concerning and sorrow over all of these events, especially in our public worship.
Whilst our Sunday service may not have the public exposure of the Get Up organised rallies I know of many congregation that have lit candles for asylum seekers who have drowned, for those held in detention and those sitting in refugee camps around the world. I am aware of church service last night which focused their attention on the Light up the Night campaign as an expression of the lament and confession which is appropriate for our nation at this time.
We should not forget what a radical act it is to gather in congregations on Sunday nor how important it is to shaping the hearts and minds of Christians as we struggle to respond maturely to the difficult issues of our time. I do wonder whether the radical import of our gathering on Sunday’s as an eschatological sign has at times been undermined who have lost the sense of connection between the liturgy of the church and its mission.
May our gatherings every Sunday by a light to the nations in the midst of the darkness of the world.