Liturgy, individually and corporately, has led to a significant turning in my heart. The practice of daily surrender and repentance has allowed me to see my own need for healing, the ways injustice operates in my very own heart against others and myself. When I participate in the work God is doing in the Eucharist, I am sustained. Fed and filled so that I can engage my thoughts with a clear mind, I can see my own biases, I can make space for equity with intention. The gift of faith, and spiritual practice within the Anglican communion, continually solidifies my identity and all that it represents, God’s light coming to lighten the world’s  darkness. We are recipients of God’s promise for wholeness, and complete restoration of all that harms the vulnerable. The cries of lament are not yet done away with, but they will as he turns the world around, mobilizing his people as he did on the day he set captives free in the desert lands of Egypt.

Our seats at God’s table empower us to do justice as advocates who walk humbly with the Christ of reconciliation. Perhaps it is this very rhythm of bowing, proclaiming, peace-making, confessing, receiving, feasting, and blessing that make room in our hearts for wonder and worship.

The internal shaping of justice is communal.

The incense rises as an acolyte stands near the altar with steady hands gently swinging the thurible, filling the room with a blend of burned resin to remind us that God’s people once followed a pillar of smoke with nothing but a promise and future hope of liberation and inheritance. The smells now signal the gift of sacrifice, the body of Christ broken for us, filling us now with the newness of life. We gather before His table, also with a single promise, one of complete reconciliation of all things. The new heavens and new earth are now being held with hope of all that is to come, when all the wounds and hurts of mankind are laid to rest for good.

The Eucharist liturgy makes space for lamenting injustice, if we start to see it as a visible act of doing justice. It is then that it becomes a safe place to grieve the ways power and authority are abused to oppress the weak. Over time, I can see the ways my soul has been nourished to live under Christ’s rule and reign in every part of the liturgy. The table of the Passover Lamb is where I am empowered to pursue equity, and where I am called to a holiness that doesn’t escape grief altogether. Rather, we are collectively moved to express grief as transcendent solidarity among our marginalized neighbors. We walk into the service being prompted to righteous action on behalf of those who suffer in our midst.

Finding respite in ancient prayer.

At home, I open the Book of Common Prayer, searching the pages of prayers for the one that reflects the grief in my heart. Another tragedy prompts my desperation, but I can’t find the words, so I scan and find the one that lifts my heart out of my stomach,

“Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (For Social Justice, Pg. 659)

I sit in the words, “…make no peace with oppression”, with a greater longing for justice and restoration, a renewed vision of God’s people. Alone, I can grieve what is not yet here, the void of equity. In community, that’s where those prayers come to life, leaving the pages, landing on the faces of those he calls my neighbors.

Weekly, we are cleansed from our complicity with unjust systems.

At the beginning of our Eucharist service, we bow at the procession of the cross, indicating our loyalties to the King of Love and Prince of Peace. Our physical bodies bend at the waist, so that our hearts can yield to the Christ who rebuked violence even when his own life was endangered. This Lord, the one we bow to, holds our hearts and minds with great mercy. We follow with the collect for purity, asking God to “cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit”; the thoughts of implicit biases, the thoughts of superiority, the thoughts of self-righteousness, are these the thoughts being cleansed? Are these the thoughts we are holding up openly for God to see and pull at? How deep does the Spirit of God go for the sake of purity? Maybe as honest as we’re willing to lay transparent before him.

Just as we are exploring our own thought lives, the words summarizing the Law are heard, loudly declared by a deacon. “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. …You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We have no out, we have no shortage of calls to love. For we follow a King of Love, and are commanded to follow in his way of love. This is what we do, this is how we reflect God’s goodness, this is how we live into our identity as sons and daughters. Open hearts, honestly begging for purity in mind, receiving the call to do right by our neighbors. “…On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The Gloria starts playing on a minor chord, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth”… My mind starts scanning memories, recalling the ways peace has come out of my mouth over the last week. Every responsive prayer is sculpting cruciform love within me, every psalm is carving away the thoughts that separated me from my neighbors.

“Christ have mercy upon us”, I sigh.

Advocating with prayer and mediating for the marginalized with God’s divine energy.

My breath hangs on the words of the Prayers of the People,

“…For the poor and the oppressed, for the unemployed and destitute, for prisoners and captives, immigrants and refugees around the world; we pray for them to be delivered from all danger and oppression. O Lord; give them courage and hope in their trouble, and bring them the joy of your salvation; have mercy on us for the ways that oppression, racism, discrimination, and inequality persists in society and in our lives. Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move that these divisions would be dismantled and healed, and that all may live in the justice and peace of your Kingdom.”

Images start flooding my mind and I can feel my heart beating a little louder.. A father sobbing, holding an infant with no shoes, in a boat. A child with a dirty face, holding the hand of his siblings, a teddy bear under his arm, among many in a caravan. Women, with hands reaching out in between fence posts, fear on all their faces.

“Lord”, I beg, “hear our prayer”.

As if that was enough to stir my heart’s hunger for justice, the confession of sin plunges the Holy Spirit into territory I wish didn’t exist, I am facing my own darkness. My legs are bent, my knees uncomfortably welding onto the hard cold floor. I am now in submission, completely laid bare in my own complicity, and “…the burden of them (my sins) is more than I can bear. Have mercy upon us…”. I take the words of comfort as soon as I hear them, clinging to them for dear life. Absolution reminds me of my inheritance, my standing is sturdy, I am free. My palms are up. We are all up against brokenness, but God is near, with rest and newness of life. Even now, when I’ve been gutted by the week’s images and news. “My standing is sturdy”, I remind myself.

Christ feeds us with Himself, to send us into the world as peace makers and justice do-ers.

Our Peaceful King invites us to partake of his peace, so we turn to our neighbors in the pews. I find that friend I miscommunicated with earlier, and I grant her peace. I find the face of my child, whose ears heard my frustrations and bitter words, and I ask for peace. As we greet one another in the name of the Lord, we reclaim God’s design for relationship. With each hug and handshake, we give ourselves over to humility. We enter the feast of the Lamb with hearts overflowing with gratitude, anticipating the work of the eucharist meal and its holy mysteries. Our hunger is satisfied with his body and blood, soul and body are recalibrated with God’s mercy.

Let us keep the feast then, for it is the epicenter of our justice making.