Yesterday I heard something on the news that really disturbed me: a seemingly sane, rational and no doubt caring man said that the only way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good man with a gun. Oh dear. An eye for ann eye and we all end up blind. When did an ancient law of proportionality become a mandate for violence?
Yesterday I also had a conversation that equally disturbed me: someone called at church to see if they had left something behind after a meeting they had attended (not one of those I lead) and saw fit to pass comment on the character of my church. He went on to tell me that, if certain legislative changes go ahead, God will punish this nation. Splutter, cough, what the *good-job-I'm-a-minister-and-the-only-word-I-know-to-complete-that-sentence-is-'heck'*? Since when was any of us God's perfect spokesperson able to announce what God would do. In any case, that kind of theology would equally indicate divine displeasure over all manner of things the person saying this would support.
The season of goodwill to all people - so let's arm ourselves to the teeth and shoot to kill!
The season of goodwill to all people - so let's ask God to smite those who fail to meet our standards!
And immediately, after these things, it came to pass that the WORD became flesh:
Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
Creator became creature
And lived among us, as one of us, with us - Emmanuel
And shared our nakedness and vulnerability
And shared our sorrow and pain
And shared our laughter and love
Our self-righteous, priggish, legalistic, judgemental, sinfulness
God loved the whole cosmos with such unquenchable love that,
Iin order to rescue it all from the grip of self-inflicted and selfish evil,
God entered it
And today it is Christ who takes the bullet
Christ who takes the insults of bigoted people
Christ who weeps with the Rachels in a hundred thousand Ramahs
Christ who starves to death in poverty
Christ who is marginalised and victimised and ostracised..
Christ who continues to say,
"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they do"
Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen