Is the title of a meeting happening at a church in Oxford that has sought out those who do not fit sexuality and gender norms. It's a generous orthodoxy, and might please Brian McClaren, but valid?
I was reflecting this morning about how we re-write the Gospel and Jesus teaching and behaviour to fit our worldview, rather than his, and the mess that always leads us into. One way or another, we seem to find ourselves steered carefully into cul-de-sacs, untenable situations, conflicts of interest, places where we're damned if we do and damned if we don't take one or other option. Some of that is down to other people's expectations and the ideas they've been sold, while some of it is down to the age-old issue of "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable" that is so often displayed. So.... how can the gospel fit my sexuality, ambition, race etc.
One of my almost constant wishes is that I could slip away, start a community somewhere with a few people who simply wanted to try to live as Jesus did, without all the history, legacy wickedness, etc etc. A problem with this is that, even if I could find a group of like-minded individuals (that wouldn't be so hard) someone would come along who had made Jesus in their own image instead of ours, and then it would be back to conflict, recriminations, demands for rights or just simply scowling at people as they walked past without greeting them.
I was thinking about this in the context of the 'difficult' situations Jesus walked through.
How did He not get compromised dealing with the woman at the well in Samaria? She was clearly living a life that would fit perfectly with current society, having been married once, then having a series of live-in partners and probably a bunch of children who didn't know who their father was and called all adult males 'uncle'. The gap we have isn't talking to such a woman, nor sharing Jesus with her, nor even seeing her get 'saved'. The problem is, what happens to her once she joins a church, goes along and doesn't fit? Did Jesus change her character too, when she responded? Did He enable her to give up everything she'd held onto - even the man she'd probably worked so hard to catch - in order to follow Him? Did she become miraculously free of depression, bi-polar disorder or find a way of earning a living without prostitution? Did the people of the town suddenly start accepting her into their homes, when the day before they'd have shunned her, or did she have to walk faithfully through being isolated and rejected while they came up to speed with the way she now was? If we were her, don't ask WWJD but what would I do?
I'm struggling to see the real Jesus in the gospel we often have as churches, and the gospels that get created by people who want Jesus to look like them instead of wanting to look like Jesus.
One of the things that I picked up fairly early on with community churches was the concept that we lay down our wishes, desires, lives etc in order to follow Jesus. A compromise that makes me feel ill even thinking about it is that there seems to be an attitude of holding on to the things we *think are right* and shaping the gospel around those. Hence my reaction to Monday night's question of women priests, regardless of the right of it or otherwise. And yes, I do it too, and that brings me no pleasure either. We sing it, sure: "I'm laying down my life and all that is within, I'm giving up my rights for a promise of new life" but at times practice may be different.
I don't know where this goes, but I want to see the real Jesus in our church, at work and moving rather than fitting in with a nice religious meeting where everyone goes away feeling smug and safe.
Something I frequently pray is that God will reveal hearts and things hidden. That has happened, to a degree, and there's a peace and a lightness in the church - a sense of this being a Church - that I've not felt here before. Maybe we're not ready for it yet, but I wish there was a power active too, that would do that setting free I talked about above. Something else to keep praying for.