Saturday, 16 January 2016

A good conversation brings context and confusion

A conversation which started off with the topic of setting a static date for Easter ended up with some interesting insights. Now this won't please Conservatives and it won't please liberals and I'm sure there\s someone in the middle who won't like it either.

It all began with the words that it would be 'nice' if the Church can set a fixed date for Easter at this would make it easier to plan school terms and other diary events. "The problem is that the Church keeps on changing the date each year. It would be so good if they could get in step with the world," said my companion.

"The problem is," said I, "That the Church has been doing Easter using the formula of Easter Sunday falling on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox (March 21) for longer than anyone can remember. What we have is the society being out of step with the Church!"

The conversation continued and, as might be expected, it came around to the Primates gathering and 'that' subject. Once again the comment was made that the Church needed to get up to date and realise that people weren't bothered about 'all that stuff'/. The problem is that the Church appears to have had a spot of difficulty with it for a couple of thousand years since Jesus arrived on the scene and another 1400 (ish) before that.

The reasons for this conflict today stems in a desire then, as I understand it, to be counter-cultural, the same for tattoos. How interesting that once again both issues are back in the foreground and drawing comment (tattoos of course less so, but still crops up on a regular basis). I have sat through many a lecture where concubines, prostitutes and the like were prevalent and the action was both hetero and homo - sexual - and the people of God distanced themselves, and were seen as being different, because of their values and standards.

 The people of God (the Jews) were called by their God (YHWH) to live differently and be different from the people around them then - and (dare I say it) still are now! And this difference continued and became to some extent as 'being Christian' was more popular - and then the world moved on, moved away, became different (decide which you like to use) and bit by bit the Church stayed where it was and the world moved out of step.

NOTE: Society didn't move forward, nor did Church become backwards, society merely moved such that it became out of step with the Church and its teaching and values and standards and beliefs. But then, being in a different place, society complained that Church was no longer relevant and this is where some of the problems became made flesh! The problem is that some who saw themselves as Church were hardline and harsh and acted wrongly against those who were living outside those things which the Bible appeared to be demanding. The pill and the sexual revolution led to freedoms (and excesses) for women - this was soon followed by another revolution and suddenly that which would have seen people imprisoned (never a right step I fear) became suddenly acceptable, and then a fashion statement.

But of course the Church stayed where it had been for over three thousand years.The world, being rooted in the 'now' has this amazingly arrogant view of those whom it considers to be 'primitive' - we act with surprise that the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Romans and other historic people groups could do complex surgery, create amazing buildings and understand a darn sight more than the average person today, often working from 'first principles' (meaning from scratch) rather than by use of calculators, the internet and other people's work.

Good, kind-minded people, seeking to make Church relevant and to overcome the spiteful and absolutely wicked oppression of those whop differed from that which had stood for so long sought to revise the Bible to say something different. This was a genuine act of kindness born out of a (right belief in my book) that nothing separates us from God's love. The problem is that which they, and I, believe that the Church is an inclusive body - I would seek self-restraint and hope that I could submit to a life of obedience  - but I am aware that I am also all too frail and hope does not always end up as reality.

But the problem exists in the form of a resolute Church and a revisionist people - two bunches of generally kind, caring and well-meaning people - diametrically opposed and yet honestly seeking the same aim. The one vilified by people who see things as being about rights whilst the other resisted because their action and aims fall outside of that which has for a few thousand years been the dividing line. And that's what this is: Division - cold, heartless and bitter division!

Secular society calls for 'rights' to be recognised and afforded to everyone it seems except the Church! Those seeking to make Church popular with the non-theist world are keen to stand with them in the hope that rights with be afforded, wrongs also righted and Church will become popular with this who stand outside of it because they're all on the same side. But of course those who oppose the Church because of all and any perceived ills have no intention of coming onside - and to be honest, that's the work of the Holy Spirit to bring them in rather than PR and political clergy!

So here we are, sitting behind the desk with a brew and a five minute splurge from the brain onto the screen and now, if I've posted it, it's now appeared on your screen.

Despite the protestations what we have is about fidelity and integrity and the talk of second-class citizens (and I know the pain of that) provides nothing but vinegar for the wounds rather any salve. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that those who lived as peacemakers were Blessed - and that the kingdom of God was theirs. Don't see many of those people around at the moment!

So here we are, I still support Justin and the work he did this week. I am still saddened by sad people who accuse folk of being unloving without knowing the person or their views (before I was a Christian I'd call them a 'something or other'' idiot for doing such) - and to be honest, there is nothing that excuses the behaviour of many since the Primates packed their bags and issued their agreement.

The words of Galatians six come to mind again here: "Be careful how you seek to correct others in case you fall into sin yourself". A problem just for the Conservative alone? No, of course not - I'm seeing as much (perhaps more) sin from other camps - and that means that all sides are doing it wrong, this is not an endorsement of any one viewpoint or position over the others!

Perhaps the first step for all those well-meaning people from all sides is to stop being self-serving and sinful: Be good to be able to see Jesus in some of the utterances, wouldn't it?

And the Church? It will probably be found standing in the word whatever happens, that's what it's called to do, innit? Some might leave, others will come but the Gospel will continue unabated at the end of the day - and if the world speaks well of you? Woe unto you when that happens :-)

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