Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On making room

I've said this before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: We Anglicans need to learn to acknowledge each other, and to come to terms with the fact that our unique movements and perspectives are all a part of the Church of England. I want to see a ceasefire between the Continuing Anglican movement, ECUSA, and the growing ACNA. Each Sunday we say the same prayers in church (or rather: the sentiment behind them and their meaning is the same, regardless of whether your English is 1928 or 1976 or whatever the AMiA is currently putting together). Christ is not limited to the Bread and Wine in our own enclave- He is present with all of us.

At the same time, I find myself grateful for that diversity, because it doesn't exist in other faith communities - e.g. the Latter-Day Saints, or the Roman Catholic Church . However, Election Year Madness is upon us, and it's becoming clear that the lines that divide our politics run through our churches too. Two of my favorite bloggers have had some especially great points: Jonathan Martin on how often political platforms have been wrapped up as items of faith and Justin Lee with a call to see those we disagree with as real people. There's not much that can be added to their excellent thoughts.

I see a need to learn how to make room for people to disagree with us - as I've discussed with my nonreligious officemate, I do think this applies to society as a whole, but I think it applies even more to the Church. It's hard for us to accept that someone can love Jesus and disagree with us about Calvinism, women in the ministry, gay rights, etc.

It's simplistic....but I think there *are* guidelines for how we judge others and how we should handle disagreements.

  Galatians 5:19-26. "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality,impurity and debauchery;idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh style with its passions and desires.Since we live by the Spirit,let us keep in step with the Spirit." 

 Romans 14: 13-21 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died.Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

All I can say is that I've seen fruits of the the Spirit on both sides of the debates- but rarely in how the people on opposite sides treat each other. Can we make room for each other in the Church? Is there room at the foot of the cross for all of us?

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