Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent 3 - A Bit of Tough Love

I woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed.  I don't really know why but very quickly, I was finding everything annoying and I was grouchy.  Then, I made the mistake of turning on the news.  I'm a CBC-ophile and the news this morning featured a very upsetting story that the news division was having to close comments on any story about aboriginal issues because there were so many and such severe racist comments being posted.  I rapidly shifted from grouchy to righteously indignant and more than a bit sad.

I wrote a scathing Facebook post and then, brooded my way to work, thinking of a couple of people I know on Facebook who have said some things that I find HIGHLY offensive.   During our election and during discussions of whether we should take in Syrian refugees, I was shocked at the rhetoric coming from these people and I was most horrified of all at the fact that they were people who wore their Christianity loudly.

Then, the moment of conviction came.  At the moment, I have been reading take this bread (her lower-case, not mine) by Sara Miles.  It has been very gripping and has brought back many memories for me of the days when I did some work with street people.  I have had some struggles with aspects of the book - a bi-sexual from San Francisco who worships at a church that features dancing around the communion table and a lot of stuff that my Presbyterian heart would find "too much" isn't exactly someone I necessarily am going to form a deep connection to.  That being said, this book still managed to get me right between the eyes.  In the reading yesterday, in the chapter about when she wanted to expand her food pantry ministry to take over part of Sunday at the church, she met fierce opposition from some and she felt righteously indignant and then, finally, came to the realisation that church needs to fit everyone, even those whose ideas we find offensive.  It doesn't mean that their ideas are right or that we need to accept racism or bigotry or other forms of cruelty but we do have to accept that they are God's children, too, and that we can't force them out of the church because they don't hold our views.  I was so wrapped up in being self-righteous that I began to dehumanize those  people behind their keyboards.  Yes, they are wrong and yes, they are offensive but at times, I am wrong and offensive, too.  I even have had times, in the not too distant past, when I didn't want to go to church because I knew that I would be sitting with people who, I believe, are directly ignoring Jesus's message in order to justify their greed or their fear.  If I am being honest, it's a mix of feeling angry at them and also feeling a fear of being rejected (and rejection at church falls just short of being rejected by your parents - they are supposed to accept everyone there).

I am not going to be happy about the kind of comments being posted on CBC and I am not going to stand idly by and allow that kind of stuff to be said without commenting on it.  I am, however, being called to try and drop the self-righteousness and to love those who I don't find very loveable.

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