|Pen and Ink Reflections||
An anonymous poet wrote, ‘I am part of all I have met." Just think about that for a moment. I think they are saying that every person, every situation we encounter changes us – sometimes only slightly, sometimes profoundly. And the more open we are to the things and people we meet, the more likely we are to be changed by them and to carry them with us in our spirit, in our heart and in our physical being – for indeed our encounters write themselves on our very bodies...
I learnt a new word this week. It is a German word – warmduscher. And it means a person who likes their shower warm – not cold, not hot, just warm – and they won’t experiment in either direction. In other words, they are a person who prefers to stay firmly in their comfort zone. They are a person who is very resistant to change. And you know what, that is most of us! – no wonder it is so hard to get elected to government on a program for change! It is really hard for most of us to try something new, because as human beings we are hard- wired to stay safe, and not risk change.
Which brings us to today’s story. Three things strike me in this story. The length of time the man has been waiting at the pool. The clarity of Jesus’s question ‘Do you want to be made well?’ and the mystery of why Jesus chose this person to heal on the Sabbath. Let’s think about them in turn...
This morning we bring together three important aspects of our lives together: the liturgical Season of Creation which we begin this week; the witness to justice and care for Creation which has been explored in our Abundant Justice conference this weekend; and the Gospel call, which we have just heard, to follow Jesus to take up the cross and follow him. So I want to speak this morning about three connecting things: about three ‘c’s; about the cross, about change and about communion; about how the cross comes when you try to change things; about how true change is grounded in the communion of all being; and about how that communion is founded on the cross of God’s creation…
I love being trans. How about you? No, I am not so much speaking about being transgender, as about simply being human, or at least a Christian variety thereof: in other words, about being a person who is transfiguring. That is each and every one of us. This is not to downplay the significance of someone being transgender, or otherwise. After all, we still have some way to go in working through that. The particularity of each of our human lives really matters. Each transgender life and story is also unique: a special creation in God’s love. Yet, the more I reflect upon it, in a powerful sense, in the divine economy, being transgender is also a way of helping us all recognise that each of us is continually invited to embrace transfiguration. For, as human beings, as Christians, we are never fixtures but loved works in process. What we shall be is not what we are now. All that is loving in our past and present is indeed taken up into what we shall be. In the glory of God however, we are, and will be, so much than we can ever imagine. This is part of the gift of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ which we celebrate today…
Have you ever noticed how much conflict there is the Bible? I don’t mean so much those horrible stories of war and sanctified violence. I mean conflict between people of faith over issues of understanding God and how to live in this world. Take the writings of St Luke for instance, not least the Acts of the Apostles. If we think we have some lively debates today - over such issues as the valuing of lesbian, gay and gender variant people - that is actually quite in line with the conflicts in the early Church which Luke writes about. It seems that, spiritually speaking, Christians have always had differences about how to relate the eternal truth of Christ to time-bound cultural issues of philosophy and morality. Luke however assures that this is not something to worry about but rather it is an opportunity to be grasped...