Saturday, 11 June 2011

Tradition Two

GospelJohn 20:19-23 

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

Tradition Two; For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.  Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. 

We live in a world that accepts hierarchy as a fact of life; a life that we often buy into. From the earliest of times we are encouraged to be aspirational; leaders are regarded with more esteem than followers; esteem is taught to children as something they should have for themselves and less overtly for others. 

One of the first things we do with our first year senior children is vote in form representatives, appoint council members and sports team captains. They have barely got to know each other but they already know that some are better than others. Group dynamics rely on some people knowing their place; and others are fast on their way to another place. On the positive side - the young people are able to make use of their gifts - but maybe because I was the one picked last for everything I wonder what message it gives at such an early age.

This is the way the world is and maybe this is the reason some people find it difficult to cope with - that just being yourself is not considered enough if 'yourself' isn't noticeably outstanding. And perhaps the positives of success and achievement have their downside in resentment and a sense of failure. 

How do you create a nurturing, safe, spiritual  dynamic in a diverse group of people who have come together from all walks of life and all ends of the success/failure spectrum. How do Christians 'live' with each other? 

By remembering that they have given control of their lives, and any imagined control of other peoples lives, over to God?

St Paul's Letter to the Galatians 3:26-29
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,  for all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

So often Paul's 'soundbite verses'  are used a a means of division or judgement. He is a man who speaks his mind although the interpretation can often be lost in the translation. But this verse seems pretty clear - there can be no division or exclusion between Christians because we have accepted Christ as our role model and our Saviour. If Jesus chose not to judge, deny or define others then how can we think we can?

Yet we do.
We say - we are being like Jesus but 'they' are not. 
We say - if it wasn't for 'them' we could be like Jesus. 

No wonder Jesus finds it so hard to leave us and no wonder he sends the Holy Spirit to act as our guide. The Spirit, the Essence of Life, is breathed into us many times during our journey of faith; we are energised by the sacraments and particularly the Sacrament of Pentecost - Confirmation - when we agree that we are prepared to live out the message of Jesus ourselves - that the breath of our 'yes' is returned by the Spirit's own acknowledgement - that each breath we take will remind us of God within us. 

Within us however, does not mean just for 'us'. We are brothers and sisters; we must love as we would wish to be loved; as leaders we must be peace bringers; as community we must hold that peace sacred.

Mark's Gospel begins with the stirring phrase 'Repent and believe the Good News'. If Mark had ever continued past the empty tomb I wonder if he would have ended it the same way? After all this is the message Jesus leaves us with - you are my friends - here is my strength and my gift - be redeemed - change your expectation and judgements - forgive and be forgiven - be together in unity with each other, for each other.



Mari said...

Very easy said than done, but the Holy Spirit is the help and strength we need to act as Jesus has told us. I have found that it does get easier to forgive the more we learn and grow in faith.

Wonderful post Mairie :)

Jade said...

World/societal views often conflict with God's views. It can be hard to forget the things we learned and replace them with the things we now believe in our hearts...though it is possible with the gifts of the Holy Spirit who lives in us and directs us into peace.

Daisy said...

Love this post too! We so much need balance, and inclusivity. "Come, Holy Spirit!"

Word in the Hand said...

Thanks to all of you.
It is much, much easier said than done - even in small communities - but by listening to the Holy Spirit we could be guided into peace - if only we truly listened.

claire said...

How do Christians 'live' with each other?
When Christians live well with each other, it is sure sign of the presence of the Spirit. When they don't, the reverse is true, I guess.

A neat post, Word. Thank you.