14.7.08

Passages I'm still reflecting on from 'Fear or Freedom'

'the challenge to the conventionally religious of Jesus' day was to abandon a fearful misreading of their rituals, texts and institutions - the one that enabled them to condemn those who God loves: the strangers, the poor, the excluded, the odd, the 'unclean' and the marginalised.

This is also the challenge of our day...'

The challenge, of course, is that this Gospel does not allow us to write off the 'others' of religious and secular fundamentalism, either.

I have been able to understand better that in thinking these issues through and deciding that I don't think I have a problem with the likes of Gene Robinson, some of the people that disagree with me will think that I have come to the conclusion I have because I am being guided simply by social mores. I am not, it is in applying Jesus' golden rule, as I understand it in this season of my Christian life, that I would listen to a sermon delivered by Gene Robinson, in the same way that I would listen to a sermon by anybody - by looking beyond the vessel and to the message coming from God.

Other parts of the book I'm reflecting upon:
'Blasphemy is not people saying rude things about Christianity..., it is believers betraying the love that has called them.

'To "live by the book" is not to read off a series of propositions onto the template of our lives. It is to encounter a word of hope made flesh, conveyed in language and lived in history.'

'When St Paul suggested that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, he wasn't issuing a call for self-loathing...He was modestly reminding us that we all mess things up. It isn't the case that some of us do , while others are unassailably right all the time. This liberating realisation is what Catholic theologian James Alison wonderfully calls "the joy of being wrong". '

'One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a "bigger sin" than anything else.'

'Christianity in today's society no longer looks like Jesus.'

The reading of this book has helped me to identify that I do not warm to Peter Jensen, no matter how sincerely he loves Jesus, because if he really does, he would not refuse to break bread with people who don't agree with him and boycot Lambeth.

'Jesus practised open table fellowship with respect to God's hospitality. It wasn't his table. He was received as a stranger, welcomed as a guest,and gave hospitality at the tables of strangers or acquaintances. Sometimes he learnt from others about brokering God's limitess inclusion.'

'...humankind as a whole is made in God's image and whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters we do to Christ.'

It has been interesting to think of the family atthe heart of the gospel in this way, 'even if Joseph, Mary and her child look like a family-unit, deeper investigation reveals that a closer analogy to the Holy Family may be to a family in which the child is born of the mother with an adoptive father. '

Last comment for now. I'd like to leave you with this one to ponder on:
'Can we consciously and as a matter of policy exclude any member of the Body of Christ without damaging the whole? When I kneel side by side with someone whose construction of family looks redically different from mine, I witness to a god whose ways are not our ways, whose judgements cannot be limited by our finite understanding, whose generosity and creativity must not be circumscribed to our tiny hearts and minds.

Our decision to include all forms of family in the community of God may be disguided. Some configurations of family may be tares in the wheat of God's kingdom. But if, as Gamaliel said in Acts 5:38, "the plan or this undertaking is of human origin it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them." If we condemn, we contravene God's own commandments. The sure knowledge we have is that if we err on the side of generosity and magnanimity, we do not stray far from the nature of God, and we have a sure claim on God's forgiveness.'

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