Sunday, April 24, 2005

Imitating Christ

lily
A hospice nurse once told me about an AIDS patient whose parents refused to touch him, even to hold his hand as he lay dying. She cradled the young man in her arms as he breathed his last, while the parents stood near the door, silent, watching, ready to run.

Tears came to her eyes as she told the story, even thought it had been many years since the incident. She was still shocked at what she had witnessed, a fear so powerful it had overcome decency, humanity, parental love.

I was not shocked.

A friend went to hear Shelby Spong speak at St. Mark's Episcopal last night. Spong has been called a radical, an atheist and many other names for stressing the full humanity of women and gays in the church. He told a the story of a young Christian man who, before dying, wished to reconcile with his parents, who could not accept that he was gay. He sent them a letter of love. When he received their reply, he asked his pastor to be with him before he opened it. The envelope contained only a blank sheet of paper -- and the shredded remains of his birth certificate.

No doubt those parents thought they were following Christ's example. Right?

3 comments:

  1. John Shelby Spong is a great illustration of the adage "how you go about doing something is just as important as what you are doing."

    Growing up Laestadian, I think there was a certain stereotype of what a liberal Christian was like. Unfortunately JS Spong and that stereotype have a lot in common. JS Spong isn't called an atheist "for stressing the full humanity of women and gays in the church." He's accused of that because he's denied many church doctrines including the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.

    I give Spong credit for being a real trail-blazer in the Episcopal Church, fighting for the rights of women and gays. Unfortunately, he also burned many bridges behind him in doing so.

    I much prefer folks like Marcus Borg, who also supports full inclusion and has radically re-examined the way we look at Christian theology, yet does so in a way that maintains dialog with the tradition instead of jettisoning it.

    Sorry to spout off like this. I've enjoyed lurking on your site for quite some time. Keep up the great work! Spong just bugs me though.

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  2. Thanks for posting, Tomte. I don't know enough yet about Spong to have an opinion. My friend told me he addressed the Trinity issue by saying that a horse may have some ideas of what humans are like, but we would not expect them to really know what it is like to be human . . . so it is with us and God. I kind of liked that analogy.

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  3. Here is the Postilla reader again--please bear with me while I share one more time. After this the Postilla goes back on the shelf. In the Bible Luke. 5:1-11 Jesus tells Simon Peter to put out his nets again, after Simon has spent the night fishing without any results. Simon does as Jesus asks and the nets are filled to a breaking point. Simon is so overcome with amazement that he falls at Jesus' feet and says "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man Oh Lord". Jesus tells him "DO NOT FEAR, from now on you will be catching men". Simon Peter leaves everything and goes with Jesus. Now comes Laestadius. Does everyone know that unrepentant and sorrowless refers to people outside the OALC and repentant and sorrowful are those folks in the church? He says in Sermon number 26, "If the Savior were traveling on earth now, the unrepentant would gather around Him like mosquitoes, while on the other hand, the repentant and distressed would stand afar off and cry, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us". The sorrowless people do not understand enough to be ashamed, but Peter on one occasion felt so unworthy to be beside the Son of God that he fell down and said "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man O Lord". When has the sorrowless multitude felt unworthy to stand beside the Son Of God. The unsorrowing ones crowd and jam right in beside Him, just as if they were His best friends. If only they had perception enough to feel unworthy and FEARFUL of the Son of God, they would stand at a distance and leave room for the repentant ones, but these miserable ones do not know enough to feel ashamed". There it is--I don't need to read more. I hope my little journey into the Postilla has been helpful to someone. Bless you all.

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