Anglican worship in the cathedrals is a gift of God. With great joy my wife and I regularly drive the two hours there and back to worship at Christ Church Cathedral in Newcastle. The liturgy is full of allusions and pointers to the Mystery in whom we move and live, and have our being. The sermon is usually thought provoking, sometimes for the reflection it causes on what could have been said. The music and choir are out of this world.
So also yesterday.
The gospel of the day was Mark’s story about the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the healing of the woman with the haemorrhage. The dean performed exegetical heroics to turn the gospel into a story of oppression and the poor. It seems that this was expected by the vice-regal audience.
Meanwhile I reflected on the reading from 2 Samuel about the anguish of David at the funeral of his best friend Jonathan: “You were so dear to me, your love for me was more wonderful to me than the love of a woman”. Precious words indeed.
I wondered what could happen if the Spirit of Pentecost 2000 years ago started flowing again. In those days Church leaders Peter, Paul and James were so enthused (en theos – in God) by the Oneness of God and the love and faithfulness of Messiah, that they issued a Synod resolution to include non-Israelite gentiles in the family of Abraham alongside the chosen people. In Messiah the heathen could share in the promised blessings without having to become ethnic Jews. Paul performed his own exegetical heroics on the story of Abraham to demonstrate that Messiah took down the wall that divided the goyim from the chosen people. Israelites and the cursed heathen are now ‘house mates’.
Perhaps our present Church could emulate that first Synod (Acts 15), and decide to include people of a different sexual orientation in the blessings of Abraham’s family. The stability and love offered by marriage seems to be one of those blessings, much desired by the gay and lesbian community. Perhaps our daring and visionary Church leaders could copy James, and request compliance with minimal requirements, in the same way Messiah-believing gentiles (us) were requested to modify our behaviour. And so welcome and include those who are far off.
It would be a sign of a Church led by the Spirit, instead of by the Book.