Sunday, March 23
The Lord’s Day
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Minute for Mission:
Three Critical Global Issues: Reconciliation
Wearing our basketball shoes and official PeacePlayers coaches’ T-shirts, we walk along one of the Belfast peace walls and enter Carr’s Glen Primary, a Protestant school. PeacePlayers matches Catholic and Protestant schools, using basketball to bring children and youth from different contexts together. (Only 6 percent of Northern Ireland’s schools are integrated.) The Carr’s Glen kids are hosting us, and the kids from the Catholic school, St. Clare’s, have already arrived.
We enter the main hall, and the Carr’s Glen kids waiting there freeze in place. A teacher comes up to us and says: “Don’t make any announcements. Just wait, and let it happen.” We try not to look confused, and simply nod. Suddenly, music blasts into the hall. One boy jumps to his feet and begins to fist-pump to a Katy Perry song. Two girls jump to their feet, doing the same gesture. The coaches look at each other, and in unison and excitement we say, “It’s a flash mob!”
As the dancing continues, the Catholic kids are invited to the dance floor, and in a matter of seconds we are all dancing like fools.
In John 4, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, “The hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem” (v. 21). The Jews worshiped God at the Jerusalem temple, but the Samaritans, who practiced a false form of Judaism in the eyes of the Jews, worshiped at Gerizim. In this interfaith dialogue, Jesus reveals that God will transcend the human-constructed institutions of religion and that there will be a unified worship of God, not in a particular place and style but in spirit and truth.
The Belfast peace walls, violent graffiti, and paramilitaries can try their hardest to keep people separate, urging them to worship human institutions. But God desires to transcend such separation and, in the dancing of children, mocks our efforts to perpetuate it.
Let us pray
God of reconciliation, help us to invite others to the dance floor and to accept whatever invitations come, that we may worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.
Sunday Lectionary and Hymns
“Glorious Things of
Thee Are Spoken”
HB 434, PH 446
“O Come and Sing Unto the Lord”
HB 29, PH 214
“What Wondrous Love Is This”
“Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts”
HB 215, PH 510, 511