Summoned to Prayer by Whistles

Yesterday morning I and about a thousand or so other people were summoned to prayer, not by bells (or by a muezzin in a minaret) but by guys in fluorescent waistcoats blowing whistles...
I was taking part in the 5 minute prayer vigil around Belfast City Hall, and as I said yesterday on facebook I was going to write a longer piece on it, but Stocki said it much better than I would in his Surmise. He even used a line I was gearing up to, the Iona Community's John Bell's oft repeated assertion that God's favourite colour is tartan... I suppose that line has stuck with me because I have a Scottish wife... But it certainly applied to yesterday, as I saw people from all sorts of denominational affiliations, social classes, theological bents and political affectations linking arms around city hall and looking out towards the 4 corners of this divided city as they prayed silently (for the most part) for it...
But that is, in many ways, only the beginning...
When we pray, the thing is that often God bounces our prayer right back at us and says "Right, what are you going to do about it?"
This morning there is another Peace Rally organised at the City Hall from 11am to 12noon... Again there are to be no political speeches and there will be a time of silent reflection at 11.55... Unfortunately this is exactly the time when most Christians will be at worship, and many others who wouldn't normally be at church will be there cheering on their children and grandchildren in Nativity Plays the length and breadth of this province... I hope that there will not be a further division of this society between those seeking peace from a faith perspective and those not from such a perspective... Indeed I would suggest that where possible ALL churches make space in their services to pause at 11.55 to pray for peace in solidarity with those of all faiths and none at the City Hall... 
But again, the question is "What then?"
If this current tension is to be resolved it will not simply be through the actions of our political "leaders" at City Hall and Stormont, indeed judging by past performance they will wait to see what way the biggest crowd is headed and jockey for position at the front of it. Rather it will be through people seeking to make a difference at a local level. Building bridges between people of different political and national identities... between people of faith and no faith... between generations... between those in power and those who feel powerless...
It is not just about "prophetic acts" at the seat of power or in the place of worship, but following the example of our incarnate God who came to bring real peace and reconciliation...

Shalom

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