Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Uprooting the unrighteous

I hadn't realised until quite recently how allergic I am to puritanism, but perhaps I'm much more tolerant of my own ability to devalue, exclude or marginalise other perspectives than I am of those who suggest I'm the sort of priest and teacher the church ought to weed out.

The Old Testament reading on Sunday was Jacob’s dream of a ladder between heaven and earth which made him respond ‘this is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven’ naming the place Beth-el (House of God). The Gospel reading compared the Kingdom to a field sowed with good seed and weeds about which the householder said ‘Let both of them grow together until the harvest’.

I had my usual halting ride around these texts for a sermon, in particular speculating how inappropriate it might be to apply the name ‘House of God’ to a church building given that Jacob (on his way from cheating his brother out of his inheritance) was recognising the gateway to heaven to be where he had slept with a stone for a pillow. I felt we simply need to get stuck into the very compromised and mixed places where we are (whether ourselves, the church or the world) trusting that this is where we will find traffic between heaven and earth, and trusting God to sort things out at the harvest if this is needed then.

I came home to find that the preacher for the Lambeth Conference Bishops in Canterbury Cathedral had been more sure footed in his gallop around the Gospel: ‘There can and there must be no uprooting, simply because if we attempt this game of uprooting the unrighteous then, my dear sisters and brothers, none of us will remain - we are all a mix of the wheat and the weeds’.

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