Today was a day of two hashtags.
Both are in response to the Grenfell tragedy in which has so far claimed the lives of seventy nine people.
Observing on Twitter I’ve seen lots of rage, at the injustice and the tragedy; the undeniable evidence of a staggering gap between the rich and the poor. Over 500 people gathered today to protest against the government’s response to the Grenfell Fire, to coincide with the state opening of parliament.
On the other hand, I’ve seen countless tweets rejecting rage in favour of prayer, renaming today as a day of prayer.
And as I’ve watched, I’ve wondered why they need to be two separate days.
Anger isn’t a sin – it’s a necessary force.
And I don’t think that rage and prayer are mutually exclusive.
I can understand the fears that the march would be overrun with violence; but I don’t think that rage needs to lead to violence – and it didn’t today.
The word itself can either be used to describe ‘violent uncontrollable anger’ but it can also mean ‘a vehement desire or passion’. I expect the marchers of today had a bit of both, because the fire that destroyed lives and homes need not have been so catastrophic.
Rage can be the catalyst for change; the start of something new. We have seen throughout history that people’s anger can and does make a difference – we just have to be sure that our rage is directed into creative action, rather than destruction.
Dylan Thomas writes in his poem “Do not go gentle into that good night”
“Rage, rage against the dying of the light”
I think Grenfell should provoke a rage against the dying of the light before the only One who can see clearly.
Karl Barth said
‘[that] to clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world’
When we rage in prayer against all that is wrong with our world, in the presence of God, we’re lamenting, inviting Him in, to have His way with us and the world we live in and we’re primed for change.
Walter Brueggemann writes:
“the laments are refusals to settle for the way things are. They are acts of relentless hope that believes no situation falls outside Yahweh’s capacity for transformation. No situation falls outside of Yahweh’s responsibility.
In the wake of weeks of an unending news run of hopeless and tragedy I want to have a relentless hope that God moves through the ashes; bringing a greater comfort, a greater transformation than we could ever dream of.
As I rage at God – I find through our scriptures that I am not alone – that countless men and women before us have raged in the presence of God and found hope.
So my raging prayer today is for just that, hope in the God who formed the stars, in the midst of what can feel like the dying of the light.