Archive for June, 2016

Our Identity in Christ

 

Dear Friends,

Who am I anyway? Am I my resume? That is a picture of a person I don’t know. What does he want from me? What should I try to be? So many faces all around, and here we go….

Lyrics of one of the songs in the musical ‘A Chorus Line’…sung by a hopeful young dancer auditioning to be in the chorus of a new Broadway musical.

Who am I? Who are we? A question of identity, a question of belonging. Who am I? Who are we? Who or what do I invite, do I allow to define me – as a person, as an individual, as a Christian? Who or what do we invite, do we allow to define us – as a congregation, as a church family, as a community?

The scaremongering in the immigration debate…the lies and dissembling preventing an informed, considered decision in the EU referendum…the shooting in Orlando and the struggle to name it for what it is: a hate crime against people who happen to love a person of the same gender…

or that poisonous climate in so many parts of our own political debate and pockets of society put into action in the shooting of Jo Cox, MP near enough on our doorstep…

People of God, our identity is at stake! Who am I? Who are we?

There’s too much going on even in our own midst:

People denying themselves out of fear, out of hard heartedness and their inability even to take one step towards a new beginning…

People turning away from the newcomer, the stranger, the other in our midst – good God, if we engage we might grow, be changed and transformed from glory into glory…

People actively hindering a sharing of life, people deliberately working to undermine other people’s attempts at ministry, people gleefully rejoicing in mistakes and set backs of others.

What is your name?

Jesus asks the demoniac he meets across the Gerasene Sea.

What is your name? And one of the horde answers: ‘We are legion, for we are many.’

The man has been completely defined by what assails him, by what robs him of joy and health, by what hinders him and keeps him bound, by all those things that keep him from experiencing life in its abundance.

What is your name? Jesus askes. What is your name?

My name is Legion. A legion of reasons to hate, to reject, to diminish. A legion of reasons to deny oneself, to hold back, to push away.

But this is not how it is meant to be. This is not how we are called to live. This is not the way of Christ.

And starting a response within the church, within our own parish and community we need to base our living and loving on the promise of the kingdom, on the purposes of God’s good will for us, on Christ’s call on our lives…

…quoting from today’s Epistle reading the apostle Paul addresses the Christian community:

‘For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’

What a promise, what a challenge, what a calling! … What a gift!

Here, people of God, is who and what is to define us, to give us belonging and hope, to transform us from glory into glory:

Clothed with Christ.

Beyond definition and division based on origin, life’s circumstances, background, gender, sexuality, possession, status, abilities, education – anything that divides us is to be stripped away by the one who was lifted up on high to draw all people to himself.

And as we start as a church family, as a congregation, as a community here at St Aidan’s, this of course extends into every aspect of our lives, at home, at work, at school, at hospital, visiting, shopping, relaxing…

recognising our shared humanity with all people God has created…

learning to see in the stranger, the other a brother or sister…

serving each other in love…

standing together against prejudice and wrong…

calling out poisonous discourse and behaviour among us…

growing in grace and gracefulness…

learning to share life in the name of Christ.

With love and prayers: Mo Andi

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Offering of love

Dear Friends,

 

Here again, our Lord is ready to embrace, ready to bridge the gap, ready to understand, ready to love.

 

However they come to him, however we come to him – hungry, sick, hurting, confused, lonely, lost, outcast, burdened, rejected, judged… Jesus does not turn away from them. Jesus does not turn away from us.

 

Not only does he not turn away, he welcomes all who risk making their way to him.

Because Jesus knows where they, where we push beyond the barriers set up by custom. Jesus knows where they, where we reach beyond the boundaries drawn by others. Jesus knows where they, where we dare hoping against all hope and where they, where we go on trusting against all evidence of rejection and results of hard-heartedness…

 

…the woman, so long bleeding, who reaches out for the hem of his robe…she is healed,

…the children, sent away by the disciples, who gather around him…they are blessed,

…the blind beggar, though shushed by the crowd, who shouts but the louder…he can see,

…the woman, who in every Gospel told afresh, comes to anoint and bless him… she sees him as no one else has ever done before,

…all, whose love and faith become our example and challenge… that we might be changed and know we are loved.

 

In this passage from Luke, in this woman’s generous gesture and loving action, we see how love pours itself out: not in denial or renunciation or disgust of self, but in an offering that springs from deep within the person, from the core of who we are and who we are called to be.

Love makes its way past any labels, shoulders the burdens of prejudice, transforms the narrowness of stereotypes, overcomes the power of bias … and all their ugly consequences.

This woman who now comes to Jesus to anoint him: she knows this.

 

This woman knows…

 

….she knows how love looses us from what chains and binds us,

…she knows how love bridges the distance between us built up by prejudice and carelessness,

…she knows how love overcomes what keeps us apart and keeps us from growing into the people, the community God wants us to be,

…she knows how love calls us to recognise and respond to the holy in our midst.

 

With love, with clarity and with grace, she shows us who Jesus is.  And with his response, Jesus shows us, yet again, who we are: not defined by the sins of the past but by the gift of love and the grace of the present.

 

With love and prayers: Mo. Andi

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