It was a festive atmosphere rivalling the NDP. After learning the Jubilee Cheer, the 50,000 strong crowd did a Kallang Wave that the organisers had some difficulty in stopping once it picked up momentum and swirled through the circular new National Stadium.
The Jubilee Day of Prayer was the largest gathering of Christians in the history of Singapore. There has not been such a large inter-denominational gathering since maybe the time Billy Graham spoke at the National Stadium, long before it was renovated.
The main event commenced with a reading of Scripture. As 50,000 people read Luke 4:18-19 aloud, I felt a tingling down my spine, just thinking about how this many people could change the face of our nation together if we lived by these words.
But I soon felt like something was sorely missing. When the Prime Minister arrived later on to great fanfare and made his speech, I realised what it was that we lacked.
Hands stretched out in prayer for our PM.
We all read aloud the declaration about the captives, but nothing was mentioned from the pulpit of prison ministries. We had representatives of the major denominations in Singapore each come up and give exhortations, but none of them said anything about the poor (there was a lot mentioned about the family though).
You see, our PM was the first person to really talk about the poor. Sure, we had an offering for the poor, but nothing was mentioned about them. Who they were, where the money is going, nothing of this was highlighted. In fact, more was said about how we should be giving more, rather than any emphasis on who we were giving to. In a way, the poor were overlooked.
In a land like Singapore where churches have million-dollar facades and parking space is a major concern for leaders, the poor are probably not much a part of our congregations.
So I'm trying to wrap my mind around this whole event. 50,000 Singaporean Christians made history when they gathered together in unity on a Sunday afternoon. And why did they meet together? Well because they could (and it felt good). But what did the 50,000 voices, combined as one, tell the world?
Probably something along the line of: "We are Christians, we love each other."
But... so what?
What about the poor, the needy, the migrants, the disabled, the discriminated and the despised, the bullied and the captives? Why are we talking about the year of Jubilee but only focusing on the favour of the Lord without taking heed of the blind and the oppressed?
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Because if the government is the one telling the church to help the less privileged, and not the other way around, then I fear that we as a united church have lost the plot.