My delicious soup and bread dinner with some of my favorite Saint Andrew friends was strewn with uncomfortable suggestions and thought stretching ideas. It was glorious discomfort and I knew I was fully alive. How can it be, that these seemingly contradictory states must merge in order to thrive?
The Lenten series based upon Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins fueled discord from day one with his assertion that love, the essence of Christianity, supersedes doctrine, which inevitably leads to exclusion. He asks this intriguing question: How can a God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, permit the existence of Hell where there is eternal suffering? And this one: If God’s grace is given, (not earned by deeds) will I cavort with Fred Phelps and Jeffry Dahmer in my next life? Yuck, not a heavenly thought, at all!
Further, gluttons for discomfort that we apparently became, we pondered columnist Leonard Pitts April 9th column lambasting Christian churches consistently tardy arrival in the resolution of social justice issues such as USA’s civil rights movement and South Africa’s apartheid policies and nationalist movements that literally killed individuals who dared to voice contrary thoughts. Why would churches who profess love not be leading the resolution of these wrongs?
I am so glad, and we seemed as a group to be glad, that we belong to a church that is above this kind of hypocrisy. At Saint Andrew, all means all are welcome. Our members’ faith journeys come from so many divergent points that we’re an ongoing ecumenical council. In a denomination that was founded in the principal of not being bound by creed, Saint Andrew is on its edge in the pursuit of social justice, acceptance of divergent thinking and the quest for harmony with our natural world. We agreed that we can engage those who are bound by doctrine with love, hard as it may be to do. We are right to provide an example by our deeds of living in a framework of love rather than a straight jacket of endless rules.
I felt so good about associating with such an enlightened Saint Andrew as we sang our going forth. We are a “big tent”, we “walk our talk”, in a less rule bound denomination Saint Andrew leads the march away from rule bound and toward love bound community - man we’re good!
Just before departing and prior to my head swelling beyond recognition, the best kind of Saint Andrew friend shared his astute recognition that Saint Andrew is a wonderful community - so long as we don’t become elitist.
I hope blessed reader you are now swimming, as I continue to be, in this evidence that love is winning: fully alive in glorious discomfort!