13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2.13-14 (NIV)
I’m usually quite tolerant of all kinds of prayers because after all prayers represent where we are in our spiritual journey and sometimes we take some detours, but certain detours are simply paths to destruction. This week gives us such a prayer on the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of hope.
Let me summarize the whats app screen capture of a prayer from the 611 church membership. I saw this on a friend’s Facebook and I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. It says something like this. “I just heard the sharing of a Christian lady cop. Today through the Spirit’s guidance, we have decided to do a prayer walk around the police HQ so that the Lord’s Army (HK police) would have greater power to clear protesters and lessen the bloodshed.
I just saw the wonderful news of the police clearing the sites. We thank our God the heavenly Father’s miraculous power that enables the police to use the least amount of force to clear the site. Our heavenly Father watches over HK. We continue to pray for a peaceful life in HK…”
Besides the lack of factual accuracy to this entire prayer about the “least amount of force,” the description of HK police as the Lord’s Army simply curses rather than blesses HK. I’ve often say that the zealous ignoramus does more damage than the cold intellectual. This case is such a perfect illustration.
At best, we simply can’t sustain the believe based on biblical evidence that the HK police is the Lord’s Army. Even at their best behavior, they can’t qualify as the Lord’s Army. There’s nowhere in Scripture that the Lord’s Army is equated to any kind of human security force.
Since it is the Advent Sunday of hope this first Advent Sunday, let me look at one place where the Lord’s Army did appear in the NT. Luke 2.13-14 record a heavenly host parsing God for the great event that was the first Christmas. The heavenly host joining with the present angels were praising God. In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament), the word for “host” can be descriptive of army in the heavenly realm (e.g. 1 Kings 22.19) sometimes being falsely worshipped by idol worshipping kings (e.g. 2. Chron. 33.3, 5). In Luke 2, these angels celebrated the fact that God had chosen His first witnesses to be the poor shepherds so that the poor would receive the gospel of Jesus’ birth. In other words, Jesus’ birth was praiseworthy because he had eliminated the disparity between social economic classes. In fact, he favored those who were poor.
Let’s look now at the irony of this entire prayer being said on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent. The protest of HK is precisely trying to eliminate the disparity between the social economic classes. This first Advent Sunday is called the Sunday of hope. Such a prayer murders hope. By viewing the police force as the Lord’s Army as they cleared up a movement that has sprinkles of the message from the first Christmas, the prayer is a blasphemy against the very spirit of Advent. It is an unacceptable prayer.
Will the HK police be the Lord’s Army? It won’t even come close until the entire police force joins force to praise God for His work to break down social economic barriers. Clearing up the protest site and creating further obstruction of local businesses may do the very opposite! James 5.16 says that The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective in healing. In this present situation, the prayer of an ignorant person is powerful and effective too in destroying any hope for human dignity. A more appropriate prayer perhaps on this Sunday is an imprecatory prayer against all oppressive forces. If you don’t want to pray the imprecatory prayer, let me share something positive from my church today as my family lights the Advent candle and read the following words.
1st Sunday in Advent:
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the Sundayof Hope. Our hope is in God, and in his son Jesus Christ. He is the one appointed by God to be judge of all things, and he is the one through whom God has promised to save and redeem his people. And so we put our hope in Him as Savior and Lord.
The words of the prophet Isaiah, from Isaiah 9:5-7:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
We light this candle today to remind us that Jesus, the one who is given, whose kingdom will have no end…that he is our hope and the hope of the world.
Prayer: O God of Hope, Emmanuel, God with Us – we pray that you would send your light into our hearts at this time. Help us to live as hope-filled people, trusting in Jesus every day. Live in us and help us to live in you. By the power of the Holy Spirit, transform us so that our lives, our worship, our celebration, our time of preparation, may be pleasing unto you – both now, and forevermore. Amen.
PS. I realize that the prayer may not represent the official position of the 611 church in HK. I would however say that those in teaching leadership need to take up their mantle of the spiritual educator so that this kind of curse no longer lands on our suffering society.