In church life there are always things that we boldly wonder about bringing to a good end, letting go. But it’s hard and not least because sometimes what one set of people are thinking about letting go of another set of people are just getting the hang of. Ecumenical things regularly fall into that category. In some parts of Northern Ireland the old-style ecumenical activities, the staples as it were, are experiencing falling numbers and becoming a burden to organise. The burden doesn’t always have to do with them being ecumenical though but with the fact that the people organising the event have been organising it for years and there is no one new coming forward to take it on. No one new understands the purpose or importance of the activity so we extrapolate from that and become convinced that the activity is no longer relevant to people’s lives. Attempts at resuscitation seem futile. I have heard enough commentary about the Women’s World Day of Prayer to know that some people feel it is time to let it go. Some feel they are weary of organising it and they have no idea how to reinvigorate it but it is never going to be taken up by a new generation in the same style that it was in the past. At the same time as some struggle others are discovering the wonderful experience that this day brings to women across the world and they are finding new privileges of encounter with their neighbours, with Christians from other denominations and after years of meeting, in some place, just among the Protestant denominations there are women now meeting with their Catholic sisters in the Lord and finding themselves deeply moved by the opportunity to share faith across those old, painful and troublesome divides. So laying to rest is not so easy after all and bold statements about bringing to a good end can boldly swipe away the moment of privilege for someone else.
As the sun sets in some other sky women who have prayed together are at home turning out the light for the night. For me it’s nearly time to go and share in the worship prepared by the women of Malaysia.
WOMEN’S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER: PRESS RELEASE
‘LET JUSTICE PREVAIL’
On Friday 2nd March over 3 million people world wide will be praying and worshipping
together during an annual day of prayer, using a form of service prepared by Christian
women in Malaysia.
Jean Hackett, president of the National Committee of the Women’s World Day of Prayer
movement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said:
‘This is always an exciting day as a great wave of prayer sweeps the world, beginning
when the first service is held in the Queen Salote Girls School in Tonga and continuing
around the world until the final service takes place, some 35 hours later, in neighbouring
Western Samoa. By then the day will have been celebrated in over 170 countries and more
than 6,000 services will have been held in the British Isles alone.’
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. Throughout its history it has attracted
migrants from other parts of Asia and beyond and it is one of the wealthiest and most
developed countries in South East Asia. Women have made important contributions to its
social and economic development but, nevertheless, they still face discrimination and
violence at all levels of society. Even today a girl child is seen as less valuable than a boy.
Malaysia is now the most popular destination country in Asia for migrant workers and
human trafficking has become a sophisticated and organised operation.
Although Malaysia’s multi-ethnicity has added to the rich heritage of its land and people, it
has also given rise to many problems. In the service those issues of concern are named
and the women voice their hope for the future. Justice for all is their hope, and their prayer
is “Let Justice Prevail”.
Although organised and led by women, this is essentially a day of prayer for everybody,
demonstrating our solidarity with our sisters and brothers in other countries and all are
welcome to attend. Further information and resources, together with details of services in
your area, can be found on the WWDP website at http://www.wwdp-natcomm.org.