24th Sunday after Pentecost

“Our lives begin to end when we remain silent on important matters.”

Martin Luther King reportedly spoke these words during his advocacy, for which he lost his life, for African Americans and their struggle for equal rights in the United States. These words come back to me each time I see the dreadful atrocities being committed in the conflicts and struggle for power in Sudan and many other parts of the world. The death of innocent women and children defies logic, and the rationality on all sides of these conflicts to defend their actions, and to simply shrug off the death of innocents as just a casualty of war beggars belief.

Central to King’s life and belief was that all men and women were created in the image of God, all equal in his sight. God’s passionate love was not limited to the powerful elite, or even believers but extended to each and every one of us. Desmond Tutu, preacher, teacher, and tireless opponent of all forms of oppression and injustice spoke similar words when he said, “God’s image for us all is to enjoy shalom, wholeness, prosperity, love, laughter joy, humanness, compassion and caring.”

Both men, Tutu and King, along with many other men and women across the globe, are all part of a movement that looks beyond our immediate self-interest to a deeper mystery – the presence and name of God that transcends the past, present and future. A God that gives meaning and purpose to life. A God that calls us into shared relationships with one another and with him. Relationships that encourage us to treat the world with respect and to acknowledge the sacred within us all. A world not simply created by chance and without meaning, as the Richard Dawkinses and others of this world suggest. Nor a world portrayed by religious extremists and fanatics of murder and injustice.

Although there are many reasons why Australians reject faith (although the truth is there are more Christians in Australia now than 10 years ago, despite what the media says) one reason stands out. Faith calls for a change of heart. It calls for a deep concern for the other, care for the sojourner and a clear commitment to love your neighbor and care for his wellbeing. This is the essence of God.