Feeling numb and overwhelmed? Innocent people killed, displaced and oppressed. Temperatures and oceans rising. Governments seemingly ineffective and unresponsive. Church influence waning. And all the while, the unjust seem to become more powerful. It is so tempting to turn off the news, emotionally shut down and block it all out. In Jesus’ day, the people also faced horrible injustice and oppression. They wondered if Jesus would save them politically and bring about God’s kingdom. Jesus told them that God’s kingdom was already in their midst and that they must “pray constantly and never lose heart!” It would seem that obsessing over the news is not a healthy option, but neither is giving up.
Beginning of the meeting
Read the reflection above. Quiet yourself. Become more aware of God’s presence. Open yourself to the love of Jesus as you read or hear the following passage.
Luke 18:1-8 NRSV
18 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2 He said, ‘In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.”’ 6 And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?’
Reflect on these questions for a few moments in silence and then turn to another person and discuss.
- On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is numb and 5 is enraged, which best describes your response to the news of injustice and seeming political inaction?
- A biblical commentator has said that “if we pray without working for justice our prayers are empty; if we work for justice without prayer we will think all depends on us, and if we pray and work for justice without faith then we will fall to despair.” What do you think about this comment? Which do you tend toward?
- How do you feel about Jesus’ directive to pray constantly and not lose heart? Is there power in prayer and hope?
After a few minutes bring the small group discussion to a close and invite people to talk about their insights and reflections in the larger group. Then ask each person to call to mind one thing they have heard in the news that they would like to offer to prayer.
Invite each person to say aloud, one-by-one, their one prayer petition. Conclude by offering this, or another suitable, prayer.
O Lord our God,
source of all goodness and love,
accept the fervent prayers of your people;
in the multitude of your mercies look with compassion
upon all who turn to you for help;
deliver us from a world without justice
and a future without mercy;
O lover of souls, to you we give glory,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
End of the meeting
Read the passage once again and ask how God’s Word has been known in your time together.