Monday, 24 March 2014
Many of you don't know me (I have to say that it has come as a genuine surprise to me that other people from around the world read this), so perhaps I had better explain a little about me and my church situation.
Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme United Reformed Churches (URCs) have been thinking for a couple of years or so just what it might mean to really adopt the concept of “Everybody Welcome” in our churches. As part of this process, both churches positively voted to accept Civil Partnerships in church and this summer we will welcome what may be (due to a confusion over the Same Sex marriage debate) the ONLY Civil Partnership ever to take place in a church (I use for this the definition used by Churches Together in England and Wales). It was not our intention to be ground breaking, or especially controversial, but simply to say that whoever you are whatever you sexuality, you are a child of God made in his image and you are welcome here.
It is somewhat of an understatement to say that I have been surprised by the responses. I have been in (other) churches where people would not look me in the eye or shake my hand. I have had people leave my service in tears and I have had people almost wanting to "touch the hem of my garment". That isn't the response I usually get on Sunday mornings!
For me personally, the experience of walking beside people who have been rejected in other churches, (and almost inconceivably for me the families of gay people who have been judged because they have a son/daughter/brother who is gay), has been salutary to say the least.
It is only when you are forced to look into your own world through someone else’s eyes that you see your own set of prejudices for what they really are. Let me say of word of support then for the two young women (I will not name them) who have bravely taken a stand to say that whatever their previous experience of rejection in church, they still believe that they are accepted and loved by God as they are, Personally I am very proud of them, and also of my own folk who stand beside them also.
Jesus was constantly being drawn into the world of sexual and gender judgement, and always refused to make the judgement which was expected of him under Jewish law.. He did not judge the woman by well who had had all those "husbands". He did not judge the woman caught in the act of adultery (you will note that the man was not similarly held up for public ridicule and censure ) but rather invited her accusers to examine their own conscience.
On the other hand He was caustic about money, how people hoard it and use it.
So: Jesus didn't want to talk much about people's sexual misdemeanours but had lots to say about wealth and faith. We do the reverse I am afraid and I am left asking about where the centre of our values come from.
What do you think?