Reflection for 9th July - 4th Trinity

4th Trinity: Matt 11:16-19 ‘An inclusive community’

The Gospel today reflects Jesus’ frustration with the religious leaders of his time; regardless of what He or John the Baptist did, they couldn’t do anything right.  Either to close to the people or to austere. 

I suppose if you want to criticize someone you will always find something.  Because they did ot fit into their model of keeping the law then they did not fit in; we can ask the question, is our church really and fully an inclusive place, regardless of who comes here will be comfortable?

The religious leaders of Jesus’ and John’s time were not so much hostile to them as they were more interested in preserving and protecting their laws.  In the Romans reading, Paul is struggling with the same thing;  He is saying that keeping the laws as he was instructed, are not helping him with his sinful tendencies and conclude with ‘thanks be to God for Christ Jesus, Our Lord’.  Only a life on the spirit leads to holiness, defined by living a life of gentleness towards others and humility in all things.

In the Old Testament reading the Prophet, Zachariah spoke of Israel as a King triumphant and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey!  Not riding on a war horse as earthly Kings do. 

Our uman history is written by generations of conquest from Genghis Khan, Saladin, The Knights Templar.  The war horse was the replaced by battleships and tanks, and today, drones.

Jesus did establish a reign, a kingdom, but not as the world defines kingship.  He established a model of leadership based upon service.  As the religious leaders of his day condemned Him and John the Baptist and found ways of arresting them; Jesus did the opposite.  He ate with sinners, he healed their illnesses and forgave them their transgressions.  His was to be an inclusive kingdom where everyone was made welcome. Else where St. Paul says ‘make hospitality your special care.’

At the Clergy conference in June, I attended a workshop on making our churches inclusive.  There is a National organization with a website where people looking can find an inclusive Church locally; at inclusivechurch.org – inclusive church raises awareness about the ways that people feel excluded by church, especially because of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or mental well being, and poverty.  You would have thought that every faith community is inclusive. To say that we are as an out reach to people who are looking locally for a faith community online we need to register at inclusivechurch.org as a sign that we are inclusive. Since I came back from the conference I have asked the Church Wardens to cost what it would take to transform our toilet facility into a wheelchair friendly bathroom.  We can think we are inclusive, we can say we are inclusive, we must prove that we are inclusive by what we do.