Thursday, February 11, 2010

Diverse Grace

Good morning God,
Differences matter - the world is not uniform or monochrome - you designed a world that flourishes through diversity. So how come we get so hung up about differences of sexuality or Gender?
Men and women ARE different!
This is, I believe, is intentional on your part - and I can't see you changing your mind any time soon!
People's sexual preferences are different!
This is, I believe is intentional on your part - and I can't see you changing your mind any time soon!
I am increasingly convinced however, that it is how we, as a Church and as individuals,  deal with difference that ultimately defines our faith, and of course, defines us because it defines our relationship with you.
Do we seriously think that just because a certain ignorant faction of the Church complains about people's sexual preferences that you will stop gracing the world with such wonderful humans?
Or do we seriously think that just because some churches don't like the idea of women in positions of authority that you will stop calling women into your service - or finding a way for them to do your will!
Who do we think we are?
Whose Church do we think it is?
It is easy to find reasons for or against embracing the full recognition of the extent of human diversity as gift of your grace - but most of them are anthropological rather than genuinely theological. Any argument for exclusion has to deal with the fundamental fact that you are the creator, that you love all that you have made and you have made nothing in vain.
By your grace, you have given us the opportunity to become more than we are by discovering and relating to that which is other than we are. If we cannot accept diversity as part of your gift to humanity - how will we ever be able to relate to the diversity that is part of your divinity?
(I suspect this is why the Trinity perplexes people so, and why many persist in trying to give YOU a gender!).
You are not like us - you make this plain to us..Yet you invite us to grow to become like you, to realise our true nature by losing it in yours.. only by embracing you as truly other than ourselves can we become more than we are.
You became like us - so that we can become like you.
The Word became flesh - so that flesh can become like the Word
(or if you really believe in Sanctification - so that the flesh can become Word)

The idea that we can command or control this process is laughable - but also blasphemous..
Grace is yours to give and ours to respond to.
Diversity is your gift of grace - how then shall we respond?
A church that repeatedly excludes others on the grounds of difference is repeatedly disabling itself - the body of Christ is not just wounded but rendered incapable of acting by having vital organs cut out as soon as they begin to flourish. A church without the ministry of women, of gays, of children, of the sick, of the dying is not the body of Christ - no matter how respectable it might seem, how 'normal' it might look, or how powerful it might think it is.It is what it is - a broken disabled body cobbled together by insecure humans too frightened by difference to trust that you know what you are doing when you make us all so wonderfully different. It becomes the last bastion of bigotry and prejudice rather than the place of Genesis of  salvation and liberation.

Of course, those who do hold to their prejudices do so by clinging to a particular interpretation of Scripture, choosing all the time to forget the opening verses of John's gospel and the fact that you are a LIVING God, still interpreting, still speaking, still revealing your way by the power of your Spirit leading us into all truth.

There have been many times in my life when I have been ashamed of the Church but in the past I have been able to find a means of reconciling myself to its brokenness and so seek to work for its healing.
I confess however to a growing sense of shame which no longer abates, a shame that increases the longer that the church preoccupies itself with its obsessive prejudices and thereby excludes itself from the important questions of life, death, salvation, resurrection, liberation, equality, justice, peace and happiness being asked by those outside the Church as a result of pressing issues such as mercy killing, euthanasia, war, climate change etc etc etc.  

The voice of the Church is no longer heard because it nolonger speaks the Word of LIFE.. its too busy reviling the life that you have created.
The voice of the Church is no longer sought because the world is weary of homophobia, mysogeny and pious searches for a westernised dream of normalised unity.

It is time for a moratorium on issues of sexuality or gender or diversity.
It is time to begin to proclaim the good news of the Gospel - For ALL for ALL my saviour died..
It is time to speak from a standpoint of love without judgement, of the inclusive nature of the love of God which sets ALL free.
WE are the Church - it's time to stand up and be counted.
If 'the' Church doesn't accept the diversity that you have created God then we must either change it or leave it.
If the debates in the Church are not about the issues that matter to the world - and if they do not reflect the desire of the members to proclaim your gospel instead of debate its fears then we must find a way to drown them out and demand debates on what DOES matter.
This is why notices of motion are SO important at Conference and Synod.
Because - as we all know - whether male or female, gay or straight, young or old - we all live and die because YOU have made us, even if you didn't make us the way that some might have wished.

God - grant the Church the grace to live rejoicing with your created diversity before we die arguing about it!

1 comment: