The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s reflection is from Rev. Ian Rutherford. Rev. Ian Rutherford is the City Centre Minister at Methodist Central Hall, Manchester. Before entering the ministry Ian was a Commercial Solicitor for over 25 years. Ian is committed to civic engagement and his current priorities in Greater Manchester are Housing and Homelessness, Challenging Hate Crime and Climate Change.
“…Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice…” (Isaiah 58 verse 6).
In Isaiah 58, we see a vision of community, which Walter Brueggemann describes as “ethically demanding”, requiring “policies and actions of a neighbourly kind”; and he earnestly encourages the church to be engaged in “worship and public ethics…otherwise there is a distortion of social relationships”. Similarly, Elaine Applebee presents this same biblical picture of community – one that has social justice at its heart. She writes that “healing for the people of God, both individual and communal, is tied up with being involved in the healing of others – the avoidance of injustice and meeting the needs of the poor”.
God’s heart for justice is, of course, amplified in the gospels too. In Matthew 25 verse 40 we read the words of Jesus: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” According to Graham Stanton, Matthew 25 ought to be read “as a solemn exhortation to the church to give priority to the hungry, thirsty and needy of the world”. What a clear mandate to elevate the voice of the ignored and silenced, the vulnerable, those in the shadows, as we seek to reflect God’s heart for justice. The church, according to Andrew Davey, has an “exilic directive to partner with city shapers” to ensure that the city thrives. This can only happen where there is “commitment to its wholeness and wellbeing and where its welfare is recognised as being bound up with the lot of its exiles and poor”.
This is the vision to which I am committed in my work but I submit that it is a vision for all who would seek to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God within the place in which they are called to serve.
Lord, You tell us that in Your house there is room for everyone.
Help us as we strive for a world where everyone has a home that truly meets their needs.
Give us the grace to welcome strangers and refugees.
Give us the insight to see where inequality hurts.
Fill us with courage to do our part.
Save us from being overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis and show us where to begin.
We commit ourselves to contribute all we can in practical action, material resources and prayer.
We ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to be upon us and in us as we work together to end homelessness.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.