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The sad truth is that the history of our church, of our religion, is strewn with upset and falling’s out, and you may have noticed that this is the way of all religions.
I have been reading a little about the pain and upset in the Pennsylvanian Christian community at the blog ‘Anglican Curmudgeon’ following on from an original link in ‘Thinking Anglicans’. As an outsider it is somewhat fascinating, if a little voyeuristic, and links well with a dialogue regarding the visit of Mr Williams, to Zimbabwe.
Put simply; the arguments and wickedness of all of us are writ large, in both our deplorable history and in our broken present.
It is easy for us to claim rights, whatever side we stand on whatever divide you wish to cite. It is easy for us to claim injury by the ‘opposition’ and it is easy to whitewash our own mud and muck. The strenuous shouts of the victors are rarely without someone in the throng reflecting on the price that is paid for that victory. That price will frequently include; moral corruption on both sides.
In cyberspace, I have heard many people shout out against perceived ‘disloyalty’ and claim moral righteousness, and if you are on the opposite side of thier argument then their shouts can be quite painful. However the truth, as I see it, is that we are all guilty of moral corruption. I do not apologise; wrong doing and wrong heartedness is not the prerogative of ‘the other side’. We are very wrong if we believe ourselves to be ‘above such wickedness’.
MrC has often railed against the corruption of senior clergy, and here I want to add that the moral certainty of our Church leaders, without humility and the acceptance that they may be wrong, falls precisely into this ‘devils trap’. Corruption of this sort encourages ever bolder corruption.
In Christ we have the answer though, for in Him is the grace of God which alone can rescue us from our religious feuding and our frail human indignation. However the stumbling block means that we are often unable to step closer to Him and receive His blessing. To do that we have to let go of our precious victories, and indeed our much loved claims of injury.
I wish Mr Williams, all the best, on his trip to Zimbabwe; the faithful will appreciate being noted for a change. I do hope that he contains his temper and keeps up his benign appearance. Most of all, I pray for a better future for everyone.
Matt 18:21 (NRSV) Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.
26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.
28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.’ 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.
32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.
35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”