Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Inclusive Church?

He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!

"Outwitted" by Edwin Markham

Steve (who is married to the wonderful preacher at the Gloucester Ordinations) has a post that made me think hard this morning. I'm so aware of the risk of becoming "exclusively inclusive", of thinking "I don't choose to be part of a church that includes people like X, with their narrow, biggotted views!",- and forgetting that pretty much everything about me needs - let's be honest - I was going to write "a lot of work" but what I actually mean is "complete transformation".
Steve asks "what price reconciliation?",- and goes on to answer his own question. The line that Love drew was drawn in his own blood. How dare I ever exclude anyone, even in my thoughts?


Lorna said...

interesting. Jesus did ofcourse say 'this is hard teaching' and he did let them go when they couldn't accept it - sometimes I think we water Him and His teaching down in the name of inclusiveness, which isn't what it means at all.

I'm grappling with something big here, just below the surface and can't put it into words. Just want to thank you for posting your struggles with loving the unlovable (often the self righteous biggots in the church) becuase I so identify with it.

Trouble is I am pretty unlovable too, and that's where Grace fits in. And I need oodles of it - if I'm serious about being changed even a little into the likeness of God, let alone being radically transformed.

Thanks for the kick up the behind. I needed this today. Though I'm almost scared to pick it up and run with it if I'm honest.

Songbird said...

I think it's very difficult when we have a different idea of what it means to be a Christian, an idea that goes beyond what time of day we worship or whether or not we are liturgical or whether we ever use the word eucharist! When bigotry against a whole class of people is an aspect of a person's character (and that could be racist or sexist or heterosexist, etc.), I don't think we need exclude them from church, but we also cannot be held hostage to their prejudices.

Sally said...

A powerful post Kathyrn; up in rural Norfolk we encounter similar problems with staunch members who don't want " people like that in my church"- you have made me ask myself how often I might ignore them by trying to be inclusive. Am I inclusively exclusive?