Sunday, June 08, 2008

lines in the sand

"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" ~Matthew 9:11

Our celebrant this morning is not one of our Sunday "regulars". He's a Friday regular. In fact, he calls himself Fr. Friday and will celebrate every Friday he's in town if we let him. (We most always let him.) But since Sunday is unusual for him, I'd never actually heard him preach. His sermon focused on the upcoming Lambeth conference, and he interwove today's Gospel message with the unfortunate fact that many of the bishops are staying away for one reason or another... because they don't want to be associated with certain other bishops, or their constituents don't want them associating with them. At least one bishop wasn't even invited, so others who think that's just wrong are boycotting too. What a mess.

When I was a child my grandmother was worried I "would run with the wrong crowd" and thus "ruin my reputation". It was important to her to have a good reputation. "You should be polite, but don't mingle" was her general philosophy. So mostly I stuck with the right crowd.

When I arrived in college I met someone a bit like Jesus, who was good, honest, loving and quite undiscriminating about who he associated with. He could have cared less about his reputation. He was kind and open to everyone. I was in awe. You can do that? Wahoo! But I still played it pretty safe.

After my second divorce I spent a few years being with people who would be considered "sinners" by most standards. And I wasn't out to change them or heal them either. I was exploring sin, or rather... discovering for myself what really constitutes sin. I learned a lot. As Jesus said, it's not what you put into your mouth that defiles, it's what comes out of your mouth from your heart.

Our Anglican Communion is in a bind. Our bishops are in a bind. Bound by conflicting definitions of sin... and they have drawn their lines in the sand. Jesus drew in the sand, too, but not to condemn.

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