Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wales: "Fight Against Everything That Enslaves and Dehumanises"

An Easter Message from the Most Rev. Dr. Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales:

It is not enough for the Church of Jesus Christ to shout on Easter morning that Christ is risen, it needs to show that it tries to live by the values of His Gospel.

What are those values? Jesus preached about the forgiveness and graciousness of God and sought to free people from everything that enslaved and oppressed them. For him there were no prior conditions for being accepted by God, whatever your sex, status or position. You were a child of God made in his image. His resurrection was a triumph over the forces of evil – the forces of racism, militarism, nationalism, sexism and poverty.

To be ‘in Christ’ then is an invitation to join in that struggle, to take part in Christ’s mission and to fight against everything that enslaves and dehumanises human beings and, of course, to do so non-violently.

There are enough issues in our world, country and church that show clearly that men and women are still being oppressed and treated as slaves. Not just child soldiers in Angola or Korea, sweat labour in Thailand and China, and the oppressive regime of Mugabe in Zimbabwe. But also here in Wales where in 2005 there were 20,000 homeless people, 7,000 of whom were children. Sexual trafficking in young people and women is still rife in this country, and foreign nationals are often forced to live on the poverty line because their employers take back for their keep the little they pay them in wages.

And we still live in a church where it is not possible for women to be bishops and in a church too where most worshippers are women but all the major committees and councils of most dioceses and province are run by men and in a Communion where gay people feel increasingly isolated and marginalised and even persecuted.

In the end it is not enough to believe in the resurrection as a proposition or as an article of faith, because resurrection is not just about a dead Jesus coming to life again, it is about us allowing God’s spirit to work afresh in us as he worked in Jesus. Resurrection means joining in God’s recreation of his world as and when and where, we can.
No prior conditions for being accepted by God. It would follow, it seems to me, that there are no entrance exams administered at the entrance to the Church, either. Unless, of course, it is OUR church, and we desire it to be an exclusive club, made up of folks much like ourselves.

Note that the fight against such exclusionary tactics must be non-violent. In this struggle we cannot stoop to using the tactics of the forces of evil. I think this would include verbal violence, don't you?

There's been some talk of voluntary adherence to a code of conduct in this strange cyber world. I'm not going to be too quick to support such an idea. I think we do quite well on our own. Yet another rope of sands, "...to enforce and draw, and be thy law..." may unnecessarily hinder the effectiveness of this medium, it seems to me.

Regarding the particular recommendation of not allowing anonymous comments; I really don't care, although I must admit that it is much easier to delete an anonymous post that bugs me than it is one with a name attached. And, since technically I'm anonymous (if you believe that, you haven't been paying attention!), how can I begrudge others who might choose that form of self identification?

Returning to Dr. Morgan's message; we must struggle against evil, while remaining people of grace. This is not easy. But I think we are given one of the keys in his closing comment; "Resurrection means joining in God’s recreation of his world..." Our struggle is for the sake of re-creation. It is to build up, not to tear down. It is to give new life, not to destroy.

Your thoughts on how to engage in this struggle while remaining people of grace?


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