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Friends, this afternoon we have gathered here to share our solidarity in Christ. Every year, on fourth Sunday in January, we commit ourselves to participate in this noble act of worship. A day like this, as we pray for the Christian unity, the texts allocated for our reflection powerfully speaks about the presence of the Spirit of God, that engage in the work of redemption throughout the human history and to date.
Our liturgy proposed a theme for our reflection ‘Your right hand, O LORD, majestic in power’ (Exodus 15:6.) As we aware, the song of Moses and Miriam is a song of victory, a song of triumph over oppression. It had become a song of victory and freedom for the Israelites and it unite them all.
First reading taken from psalm 18, again appeared as a song of victory and redemption, the Lord delivered David from the hand of all his enemies. He was a man after God’s heart, yet this shepherd boy was surrounded by life denial factors of the day and he was a constant victim of hegemonic powers of the day.
He wrote; ‘the cords of death entangled me; torrents/ currents of destruction overwhelmed me, cords of the grave coiled around me. In my distress, I cried to my God for help, He heard my voice, my cry came before Him’.
Vs 16, 17, He reached down and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, who were too strong for me. David humbly acknowledges the majestic power (transforming power) of God.
As we look at the context that we live; there are numerous forms of contemporary challenges are threatening to enslave the dignity of humanity created in the image and likeness of God.
Although, the human dignity is certain, it is often covered by both personal sin and social structures of sin. In our distorted or fallen world – societal relationships too often lack the justice and compassion that honour human dignity. Poverty, violence, bribery, corruption, injustice, addiction to drugs, pornography, and the pain, grief and anguish which follows, are some experiences that distort the human dignity.
Under existing circumstances it seems almost impossible for many of the people to pull themselves out of poverty and debts. In many places, available legislative framework even continues to be discriminating.
These sort of bitter realities around us draw our attention to the Gospel narrative. I see first part of the Mark chapter five is more appropriate for the theme we are reflecting. The text clearly depict the situation of an oppressed (demon possessed), and over and above his voice we can hear the voice of the oppressor, who used the victim as his mouth piece. When the TRUTH (Jesus) confronts the oppressed the voice of the oppressor is strong. Numerous life denial factors (legion of demons) are trying to chain him, attempting to snatch his life by secluding him, but he experience the great redemptive power of the LORD. ‘Your right hand, O Lord, majestic in power’
All the texts we read allow us to see how the road to unity must often pass through collective experiences of suffering.
The Israelite’s liberation from enslavement is the foundational event in the establishment of Israelites as a nation. Although, liberation/ salvation is an initiative taken by God, God employs human agencies in the realization of His purpose and in the plan for the redemption of His people.
The right hand of God, majestic in power; brought the people out of slavery, redeemed them from death and legion by breaking the chains of injustice. As Christians, who are witnessing to this common hope we must strive to work together to minister to all people with specific focus on most vulnerable and neglected. Because, through our baptism and by drinking from the same Spirit of God we share the God’s ministry of reconciliation and unity. As Paul said in the Epistle reading ‘we have not receive a spirit that makes us slave again to fear, but the spirit of sonship’. The spirit of sonship equals with spirit of freedom, but we should realize the fact, our own divisions (slaveries) may hamper our witness and mission to a country in need of God’s healing.
Let me conclude this reflection with a phrase taken from the hymn ‘the right hand of God, which has written by the Caribbeans out of their experience; “the right hand of God is planting in our land, planting the seeds of freedom [and unity], hope and love”. This should be our anthem too. The Lord bless you through this reflection.
Rev. Saman Perera
Presbytery of Lanka.