liberation from wee

9 03 2010

Blog-land is an easy place to point the finger. Even when we don’t mean to. I wrote the previous post originally as a talk for my little congregation, and I thought I would share where it changed at the end as I preached. Because I think I began by pointing at the mythical ‘they’, and ended up pointing at very real ‘we’.

Jesus saved – the Greek word is loosed – the woman in Luke 13 from being physically bent double by her condition, and from being socially and psychologically bent double by her religious leaders. That is great and it is interesting and like all Jesus’ actions, in itself it stands alone as worth telling.  But the question is always, what about us? What about me?

bent double, by who?

I love my small congregation. With some notable exceptions, they are mostly ladies over 70, who have been following Jesus all their lives. I know some of some their stories. When you’ve lived over 70 years there is a lot of story to know. The question for me was, have any of these wonderful people been bent double by the weight of obligations and expectations from their religious leaders? From me?

The same question is for you. Have any in your congregations? If you, like me, are a ‘religious leader’, have we done it ourselves? How have our people – even us – been treated by the church (which is us) as we have gone through life? If we’ve been divorced or got pregnant outside marriage; if we’ve fallen out with the vicar or the powerful people in the church; if we see life differently; if we find it hard to read and so cannot offer ourselves for the rota; if our children no longer come. Things might be ok now, but we humans can carry hurts for so long. A year becomes 5, becomes 10 becomes 30 and we still hurt. We become bent double. Who is holding us down?

Sometimes it is easier to keep people down rather than let them challenge us, sometimes the oppression is easier to maintain and safer to implement than to allow free-thinking and free expression. Sometimes it is easier to let people think the clergy/priest/minister/pastor is different, on a higher level, above reproach, got a hot-line to God and a ticket to the front of the coffee queue than it is to join the queue for coffee at the back and wait like everyone else.

There is a difference between leadership, which we have to do, and elevating ourselves, which we must not do. There is a difference between encouraging people to be good apprentices of Jesus, and accidentally enslaving them on a conveyor belt of expectations and obligations.Even with my low view of ordination and the priesthood, I sometimes find myself enjoying the tiny pedestal some people put me on by virtue of my collar. I am part of the establishment. There is no ‘they’, only ‘we’.

So let’s not always think the liberation is for others and the liberating has already happened. And let’s not underestimate the hurts people carry with them from school all the way through to old age. If we are a part of it, we need to address it. We are our people; our love must not betray, dismay or enslave, but it must set free. It starts with we. With liberation from we. For that is what Jesus did. Simples.

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10 responses

9 03 2010

Truth that doesn’t set you free is not truth.
The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove.
I’m following love. And love is following me.
It’s always simple. But seldom easy.

9 03 2010

So truth that doesn’t set you free isn’t truth, according to Edge. It certainly fits in with the post modern mantra of My Rights, not My Responsibilities. That is why we have a Human RIghts Act and not a Human Responsibilities Act.

I am afraid it isn’t what I read in my Bible. Jesus wasn’t set free from his responsibilities (…let this cup pass from me.) He faced them head on and endured the outcome because he loves his father and he loves us. And he calls us to face up to our responsibilities, to him and to other people.

I’m sorry Edge but if you are looking for a truth that sets you free from everything you are going to be disappointed, you are chasing a dream. The truth sets you free from much that is evil but it does call for a response. The problem, as Kevin has rightly pointed out is working out what that response is. It seems to me that the Church, in an effort to contain it and make it simple has made rules and laws and in so doing has created hierarchies, structures, belief systems and defined who is in and who is out , and, as he said, have in so doing loaded burdens on people.

He is right, we should liberate people from these. But never think that love doesn’t have a price – love has caused me to cry my heart out, to give up dreams and ambitions, to bear other’s burdens, to go to the very gates of Hell. Love has also brought me unspeakable joy and wonderful blessing. Tough love – wonderful love – God’s love.

9 03 2010

Jesus sets people free, but we still need a coffee rota. Jesus sets people free, but there are still things to learn. Jesus sets us free, but then he leads us back to the dark places to redeem them, reclaim them, transform them.

So as Edge says: we follow love, and love follows us; and as c2drl says: that love we follow and that follows us is not a fluffy-bunny-easy-life-love, but a nitty-gritty-dirty-places love, love that calls us to hard things that we may be set free. Again. And again.

I am set free, but I am a slave to Christ. Which doesn’t always feel like freedom, but always is.

9 03 2010

But isn’t that how it so often is with God, we just think we have got hold of it and we discover an enigma!

Die to live
Slave to be free
Worship and we are blessed
Give and we recieve

etc etc etc

God is just so much bigger and complex and delightful than we can ever imagine and yet we persist in trying to define him and demanding that others accept our definition or they are not one with us.

Liberation from we, from a belief that man knows the answer and liberation to be free, to rejoice at what God does in people and the diversity of his acts and blessings, and liberation to go on loving until and when it hurts because as we give away our love god gives us more and more and more. Hallelujah

10 03 2010

I still think that truth that doesn’t set us free isn’t really truth. The key question though is: what do I mean by free? I don’t think true freedom is being ‘free’ from responsibility, or consequences, or life, or death, or the muddle of masks and nakedness. True freedom is arguably never having to question, because we already understand. And, of course, in this world (life) we need to constantly be asking questions, because we will never be able to fully understand. Though we should try to ask better questions and strive to develop greater understanding.
Because maybe it’s not really about truth or freedom at all, but about growth and development and realism and compassion and changing ourselves and changing our world (for the better)?
People who claim to have the truth are inevitably liars. But people who want to seek after truth are wise. And people who say they have been set free are inevitably foolish or disingenuous. But people who aspire to seek to be free and to free others are noble.
Is faith about truth and freedom? I hope so. But it’s faith. It’s not truth or freedom. Not yet, anyhow.
It’s a tango of trust and disbelief.

10 03 2010

If truth is a person then there is hope for all of us! Thing about faith is it makes us slightly ‘bonkers’! Cause we just ain’t got no proof!!! thing about hope is it gives us a way through the bad bits, with honesty and reflection.
But i would choose faith and hope every time….because it always lays out the possibility of something bigger, greater and deeper than the things we see with our eyes.

Today there were two robins in our barren garden! A garden that never gets birds staying around. Always always hope!

11 03 2010

Do we have here a microcosm of church history? Jesus says, liberate the oppressed, and the church then spends a few centuries asking, What does he mean by “liberate”, What does he mean by “oppressed”, and Is there a significance in saying “the” rather than “some” or “an”.

Meanwhile few are liberated and many are oppressed.

Abstract discussions are not irrelevant – I should know, I have 3 theology degrees! – but we need to keep our feet on the ground, we need to keep looking to what it means for us, our churches, our communities, not what it means in abstractio (I made that up). As I said in my next post, it’s dirty hands or helium balloons.

It’s a tango of faith and action.

Bring on the robins!

11 03 2010

Indeed. Abstraction is what God does best!
Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
But the truth has many angles and we need to handle it with care. Some lies will become truths and some truths will be seen to have been lies.
It’s a tangle of tests and theories.
And don’t discount helium hands and dirty balloons…

11 03 2010

True freedom is arguably never having to question, because we already understand. As somedbody who only has one Theology degree can I take issue with that. We can never understand God, and part of the trouble is that we think we can.

I can’t understand why God made robins, I can’t understand why he loves me, I can’t understand why he persists to maintain this fallen world despite our worst efforts.

What offends the secularists is that because we can’t understand it, they can’t argue against it – thats why we see such bad tempered explosions in the media.

Why, oh why can’t we admit that God is bigger than us and we don’t fully understand him. Why can’t we accept that science and logic isn’t the only way of looking at the world. Why do we insist that only our belief, (our personal belief, our denomination, our house group, our Christian clique) is ‘sound’ and then stop listening to others, inside and outside the Chruch.

You know, sometimes the robbins have more to teach us than the bishops! And maybe sometimes the muslims and the jews have a point too. I still say that freedom from ‘we’ and an openness to see God working and speaking in others is the beginning of freedom.

11 08 2010
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