Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I wonder ...

Anne Weems writes eloquently:

He said, "Feed my sheep."
There were no conditions:
Least of all, feed my sheep if they deserve it.
Feed my sheep if you feel like it.
Feed my sheep if you have any leftovers.
Feed my sheep if the mood strikes you.
if the economy's OK ...
if you're not too busy ...
No conditions ... just, "Feed my sheep."
Could it be that God's Kingdom will come
when each lamb is fed?
We who have agreed to keep covenant
are called to feed sheep
even when it means the grazing will be done
on our own front lawns.

I wonder why there is such strong opposition to change in the Church.

I wonder why those voices, like mine, that speak out in favour of change are subject to such harsh and angry criticism when we speak up and speak out.

I wonder why it is, when we dare to name the truths that has long been identified by people like J. Russell Hale, Gordon Turner, and the writers who have explored the topic of clergy abuse, dysfunctional congregational life, and cultures of toxicity in church communities, are told to "move on," to "let it go," and other empty platitudes that serve only empower the dysfunction, and perpetuate it.

While the common response in a community to a threat against the status quo is to circle the wagons, and to shoot the proverbial messenger, I have to wonder why the response of The Church - the place called to a Covenant outlined so succinctly by Ms. Weems, will almost ALWAYS respond to this happening by supporting those huddled in the wagons, and actively participating in the demonizing of the messenger, regardless of the validity and truth of what the messenger has to say ...

I wonder how the Church and our society, and our world would be today if we succeeded in shooting the many messengers who dared to speak up and speak out about the toxic dysfunction of the status quo, and who refused to take their place at the back of the figurative bus ...

I wonder how different the world would be if those prophetic voices were silenced by the so-called majority, who were insistent that 'everything was fine' and that these voices were nothing more than minority outsider opinions that should be silenced rather than heeded.

I wonder what would have happened if the advice to "shut up," "let it go," "move on," and "don't try to change things," had been listened to by people who brought REAL CHANGE to our Faith and our world ...

What if Jesus listened to his critics and stopped preaching, teaching and healing ?

What if Peter and Paul abandoned the mission to the Gentiles, and instead kept the sharing of The Gospel ONLY to a Jewish audience ?

What if Rosa Parks gave up her seat and went to the back of the bus?

What if Martin Luther King Jr listened to his colleagues in Birmingham telling him to stop agitating for change?

What if The Reverend Lydia Gurchy (pictured above) listened to the voices that told her that she could NEVER be ordained in the United Church of Canada because of her gender?

What if The Reverend Tim Stevenson listened to the voices that told him he couldn't be ordained in the United Church of Canada because he chose to be open about his sexuality?

What if The Reverend Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela listened to the voices that told them that it was UNFAITHFUL to oppose the racism of Apartheid, and that they should stop fighting against Apartheid?

What if The Reverend Cle-alls (Peter Kelly) the son of a Haida Chief had listened to the voices that told him as a First Person, he couldn't aspire to ministry in the United Church of Canada?

What if Jim Wallis listened to the voices like Glenn Beck and others who label him as unfaithful and un-Christian for speaking out on issues of disarmament, poverty, political power and empowerment ?

What if The Dalai Lama went along with the Communist Party Line in China and left Tibet and it people to their fate?

What if Mother Theresa has listened to the counsel of The Church when she felt the call to minister to the poor, the dying and the outcast ?

What if Dietrich Bonhoeffer had gone along with the rest of the German Churches who capitulated to Hitler and his rise to power, and did nothing to oppose him?

What if people like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Mennos Simon and the other reformers who forever altered the course of the Church, had chosen to simply go along with the edicts from Rome rather than listen to their hearts that said - "SOMETHING IS BROKEN AND IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED !!!"?

What if there were no prophetic voices that dared to speak up and identify the toxicity, and dysfunction in our church and our society ?

What if we simply went along with the status quo and those who have experienced the harm that a toxic culture of dysfunction can do (and this is not to paint them as blameless), followed the advice to "let it go," "move on," and "stop trying to change things," and instead gave into the complacency and inaction that such counsel represents.

Fortunately, in The Church, we are called to be covenant keepers. And foundational to that covenant is the Resurrection. The resurrection - a moment of transformative power that is breath taking, and life altering ...

The Resurrection tells us that change is not only possible - change is foundational to our common faith.

If we accept that things can not and will not change, then we are being unfaithful and we are ignoring the clarion call of the Spirit who calls us to more than just sitting and accepting the way things are ...

I wonder what it would be like if The Church took seriously its call to "Feed My Sheep" that echoes across the millenia, not as a quaint statement of some historical moment, but as a calling to ACT NOW.

I wonder ... maybe one day people will stop trying to avoid change, and will accept that it is inavoidable and unstoppable ...

As Weems says - "where change is possible, new resurrections loom !!"

Maybe one day people will get THAT ...

No comments: