Friday, February 1, 2008

Jasper on Justice

From Bishop Marc Andrus Blog
guest blogger: Jasper Goldberg
Dec 19, 2007 at 11:11 PM

Jasper is a high school student and member of Uur Saviour, Mill Valley, where i heard him eloquently participate along the line of the post below regarding the heart of the Episcopal Church and our place in the Anglican Communion. I was deeply moved by what he had to say, and by his commitment.

Every year at Advent we hear the story of John the Baptist, crying out in the wilderness that something great is coming. We hear also of how crazy he was, how so few people listened, but we know now that he was right. Something wonderful was indeed coming. That something was a someone, Jesus of Nazareth, who would go on to preach a message of love and equality, echoing John’s call to lower every mountain and fill in every valley. We call ourselves Christians because we dedicate ourselves to loving and serving all that God has blessed.

We see in the stories of Jesus’ ministries to the prisoners, the lepers and the outcasts of society in his day a message that no one is below the love of God. We are all God’s children, and we know that what we do unto the least of the people of God, we do unto God. Every time that we allow an injustice to be perpetrated against a gay man or a lesbian woman, the marginalized of today’s world, we allow the attacker to harm our beloved God, and in our negligence we are guilty. It is not enough to stand on the sidelines, and hope that someday things will be better. We must make our stand for those that society considers “outcasts” if we are to be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

It is not easy to take a stand on so divisive an issue. In our fractured world, I would much rather advocate unity and reconciliation. Only one glance at the newspapers is enough to remind me that this world is defined by East vs. West, Shia vs. Sunni, red vs. blue. I do not want to support splitting the world yet another way. But this is not a division on ethnic, religious or political differences. This is liberty vs. inequality. This is right vs. wrong, and there can be no reconciliation with wrong.

This is not just a struggle for members of the gay and lesbian community. I am not gay, but I owe it to my family members and friends who are gays and lesbians to take a stand. I owe it to the individuals who fought and sacrificed for the Goldberg family during the dark years of Nazism. I owe it to all who have taken stands in the past. I owe it to Jesus himself, who gave everything for each and every one of us.

This essay by a high school student certainly seems full of passion for what he sees as the liberating mission of Jesus! In standing in favor of the opressed, fighting for justice and extending mercy to the outcasts of society he identifies the call of John the Baptist to he Church and society and recognizes it as a place of wilderness.

Certainly the Episcopal Church, the community to of faith he belongs to, has taken bold steps in the last several years! The consecration of gay man living in a partnered relationship,, the choosing of a woman as Presiding bishop, the clamor in some parts for the blessing of commited same sex couples puts the church in the center of controversy and schim! Many faithful Christians hold these things as a departure from the traditional Scriptural and Traditional values of Anglicanism.

It would be interesting to poll young Christians about their attitudes towards women in ministry and the role of gay people in the Church. A Barna survey in 2007 showed the a new image that has steadily grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common perception is that Christianity is "anti-homosexual."
Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality, they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a "bigger sin" than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians

I wonder, as I read the post by this young Episcopalian, the findings of surveys among the young ,as well as the attitudes and concerns of younger people in my own parish wether we have missed the boat. Could it be that instead of showing the face of Jesus, full of love and compassion for all, we have shown the world and our children a face of hatred and intolerance? Certainly time will tell the way it will go for the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion! For me, I guess the bigger question is what kind of values and gospel are todays Christians communicating to their children. It seems like there is a disconnect in more ways than one!



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