Lots of Pentecost fun at church this morning with the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit.
Hoping that breeze becomes a gale.
I've always been proud to belong to a "broad church". Having grown up in the church heavily influenced by conservative evangelical teaching, for which I shall always be grateful, it came as something of a relief that, when I "outgrew" that, when I realised that discerning God's word for today isn't something all bound up and neatly packaged but, rather, an ongoing discipline that taxes God's people at every turn, I was afraid that I would no longer fit in - or be welcome. To date, that has not been my experience except on a few occasions. Of course there are places where my "youth" and femininity are met with disdain but, nevertheless there has still been room enough if not to find a comfortable slot then at least to rub alongside. A few conversations these past weeks, however, have got me wondering if all that is about to change. The Church of Scotland is going to return to the issue of sexuality, this time because of an ongoing dispute in the Presbytery of Aberdeen. Journalists are having a field day with some choice phraseology and are being given plenty of fuel by the more vitriolic opposers of homosexuality. There is a rather more balanced discussion and an interview with the minister concerned here. Of course we've grappled with this issue and skirted around it on other occasions in General Assembly and in other forums. This time, it seems as though allowing individuals to act as their conscience directs or as they faithfully discern the will of God in different situations to be, will no longer suffice. We are being called to decide and then to conform or to desert. There are people who are much more eloquent than me in outlining the biblical and theological arguments (these are not the same). But, if I may sum up my position simply: The God who walks with me every day, whose hand I discern at work in all of flawed creation, is a God of immense and extravagant love. And Jesus Christ whom I call Lord and in whom I trust for my salvation came to simplify that love, calling all, turning away none who had even the faintest glimmer of faith. That is why I believe the Church of Scotland, an earthly institution has to remain broad and has to embrace all regardless of faith or sexual orientation or even theology! That applies to all members of the Christian community and we should not demand of leaders what we would not demand of others. I am more than happy to make room for those whose opinion differs from mine. The question is: Will they be happy to accommodate me?
The sun setting over Arran this evening reminded me of a hymn often sung at funerals: The day thou gavest Lord has ended. One verse begins - The sun that bids us rest is waking our brethren 'neath the restless skies/ and hour by hour fresh lips are making thy wondrous doings heard on high.
Its easy, especially in the cosy confines of the church to get caught up in our own small world and to give things more importance than they merit while forgetting that other parts of creation, maybe even on our doorsteps, struggle with all manner of tragedies - poverty and hunger and swine flu and terminal illness. The God, who is God of all creation cares about all of these things and asks us to "get real" too.