Sheep without a Shepherd

It's a David and Goliath story- peaceful monks vs armed and violent soldiers. It tugs at our heart and mind- it is the old appeal of the weak standing up to the strong and we want desperately for the weak to win. The courage of the protesters is astounding, doing the very thing that had 3000 people massacred not so long ago. Their bravery is magnetic, this week whenever I have walked past a newspaper stand I have found it impossible not to pause and scan the photos and the headlines.

But the protests should compel us for reasons deeper than this. What the protesters are asking for is profoundly right. What the protesters want is what Jesus wants. "How can you say this?!" some of you more conservative types might cry, "Hath the Lord speaketh in your ear?!" (Okay I know fundamentalists don't speak in King James language but it suited the moment)

Well, Jesus might as well have as it is written right there in the Bible- in both words and actions we can see that Jesus stands strongly for the ideals of equality, democracy and social justice and strongly opposed to political, emotional and religious oppression.

In Karl Barth's fantastic sermon on Jesus and and the social justice movement, where he basically states that Jesus and social democracy have the same purpose, he says "In answer to the question "Which commandment is first of them all?" Jesus named two "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "you shall love your neighbour as your self". From this awareness of the collective, solidary, communal, social God the rule of coresponding action follows of itself" "Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them".

If I was a peaceful protester in Burma I would hope that people all around the world would stand in solidarity with me and that people, organisations who stand in Christs name would speak out against my oppressors.

The Salvation Army have been working in Burma for a while, with a lot of impact. This blog post (from the School of Prophets Blogand seems kind of prophetic seeing as it was written at the very beginning of these protests!) describes the hard and 'gutsy' work of the SA there. My old Boss Campbell Roberts does a talk based on Micah, that being a christian is a triangle of mercy, justice and personal spirituality, each being as criticial as the other. He argues that the Army is all about mercy and personal spirituality at a cost of social justice. In Burma for sure we are doing two of these things, but does the events of this week highlight the missing third?

If the International Salvation Army spoke out in support of the protesters would it be sacrificing this amazing mercy work going on? If it is supposed that that would happen are we then forsaking social justice for mercy? They are hard questions, but I beleive that even mercy can only happen to a certain extent within a socially just framework and soon, if we fail to support the cries of the people, that even the Armys acts of mercy will be made redundant.

What are your thoughts?
PS to sign the petition heading for the UN this week click here.

If any of you are wanting to join a protest there are a couple here: (Taken from the Stand with Burmese Protester Facebook group- Come and joing if you are a FBer!)
Londoners: Protest every day from 12-1 outside the Burmese Embassy. Joing a big march from Trafalger Square this Sunday from 11:30.

Kiwis: Protest at Aotea Square this Saturday: http://unityaotearoa.blogspot.com/2007/09/democracy-for-burma-now.html for more information

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