“What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn”. Madeleine L’Engle
Last night I was very honoured to speak at All Saints Church as a part of a weekly series the church has affectionately called Anglicanism 101. My topic was Anglican Spirituality. There was so much that I could have spoken about that it was difficult to narrow things down. In the end I chose to speak about Julian of Norwich, Desmond Tutu, John Donne, and Madeleine L’Engle. All of whom wrote, spoke or loved in such a way as to exemplify the idea that above all else God loves us and in our innermost being is a blessed, holy creature of God who is to be dignified and respected and that we are intimately connected to the other and we ought to seek to dignify and respect all persons, because in so doing we honour God.
Madeleine L’Engle is really a great witness of love and a great advocate for calling us to love. The quote above is one of my very favourites because it speaks of the totally irrational love of God. God loves to the utmost end. God loved so much that God would pay the ultimate price. God loves me. Imagine that. God loves me, and I could never do enough to earn that. God loves me even when I am weak, even when I am confused, even when I am not so pretty. God loves me when I least deserve love. It is a wild love indeed and it is so free to you and to me. It also means that it is complex because as much as god loves me, God loves those that I might not see as so lovable. Because of that, it is imperative for me as a discipling Christian to work hard to love all, embrace all and seek to find Christ in all persons.
On September 28th a group of our friends at St. Aidan’s church in Windsor have decided to walk apart from the Anglican Church of Canada. St. Aidan’s continues as a parish in the Diocese of Huron and the leadership of our Diocese is working now to address the issues that reside in that parish. We pray and hope that those who attended that meeting and voted to ‘leave the Anglican Church of Canada’ will come back to the table and embrace that ‘wild wonder of God’s love.’ It seems that those who have been lead down the road of separation by frightened leaders have forgotten about this irrational love of God. In an overzealous need to keep their Christianity tidy, the people who have embarked with Don Harvey away from the Anglican Church of Canada have sadly also stepped away from the call of the Gospel to love those that others cast aside. Instead of rejecting the Gay and Lesbian community to keep things tidy, God is calling us to what Mike Yaconelli calls a ‘Messy Spirituality.’ In his book by the same title he writes of God’s annoying love. He says, “Neither failure nor poor church attendance, nor inadequate bible reading and prayers, nor betrayal, denial, doubt, insecurity, guilt, weakness, bad theology, or even losing our temper can separate us from the love of God.” Messy Spirituality, pg. 159. He says in the book that he got annoyed with listening to Christian leaders who ‘have it all together.’ Which of us can say that we have it all together? Yet for all of that, we are still faced with the argumentative debates over and over again about human sexuality as if it is the only thing in the landscape of our church that matters. I would argue that we need to get messy. We need to not only tear down the wall that has kept out Gays and Lesbians, we also need to ask ourselves who else have we kept away from our doors because of our penchant to be protectors of repectable faith. It is a sad statement when those who should be a becon of the love of Christ become the purveyors of condemnation. Yaconelle writes, "Religious people love to hide behind religion. They love the rules of religion more than they love Jesus. With practice, Condemners let rules become more important than the spiritual life.” Here is another little gem from Messy Spirituality. “It’s ironic: we stumble into a party that we weren’t invited to and find the uninvited standing at the door making sure no other uninviteds get in. Then a strange phenomenon occurs: as soon as we are included in the party because of Jesus’ irresponsible love, we decide to make grace “more responsible” by becoming self-appointed Kingdom monitors…”
It is so very true that we all become forgetful of how we are loved in our mess, so why would this irrational God not love others in their mess as well?
I pray that those who have walked apart from us might come home to the supper table dine with us in our messy Anglican Spirituality. God dines with us and says, don’t worry about the mess…I am here to sup with you.
Incidentally, I am becoming very acquainted with messiness … renovations are moving along very quickly. Pictures can be viewed tomorrow on the parish webpage at www.stmarkschurch.net!