Monday 22nd June
Perspective – it is an obvious thing to say but our view of life always depend on our experiences. Human beings are complex and the working of our minds often defy understanding. The way we are brought up, our family experiences, our schooling, our work and our faith all give us different perspectives on the world. It sometimes means we are blind to the impact we have on others and our view of right and wrong. I often defy expectations because people make assumptions about my background and upbringing based on the fact I am an Archdeacon! However between us Claire and I have grandparents who were labour councillors, coal miner, railway driver, skilled wheelwright and members of ASLEF, the NUM and the NUR! Perhaps not what you might expect of an Archdeacon. However we have parents who were a doctor, a senior auditor, a nursery nurse and a secretary! This mix of history, background and antecedents makes for interesting meal times! However in spiritual terms it is a really good example of how we are called not to judge one another! Jesus was really clear that we need to start by accepting we are all different and that difference helps to create the Kingdom of God!
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Our spiritual life also has perspectives and our character, personality and life experiences shape how we pray, read the bible, determine our theological preferences and even preferred choice of worship style! Intovert, extravert, reflective, activist, theorist the list goes onwards each changes our perception of one another and the world around us. However these things should never be an excuse for poor behaviour or worse for defending values and cultures which stand against the values of the Kingdom. We may not be able to change the journey we have been on but we can change the future which is yet to be written. The church is under a lot of scrutiny at present for its part in the history of slavery and empire. What is without doubt is that the Church of England has been a force for cultural imperialism and has not always acted from a Kingdom perspective! We are not responsible for history but we are responsible for the future and how the church behaves going forward. Peter, in his first letter pointed us in the direction we should go.
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”
Whatever your starting point, whatever your background, however you have used your life thus far you have a choice, you can change your perspective and God will give you his view of his creation.
“I appeal to you therefore by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
As you pray today ask God to reveal to you what from your past and culture shapes your perspectives on faith and belief. Pray that the Holy Spirit might fill you afresh and enable you to look forward with Kingdom values. We also continue to pray for our nation that our leaders in politics and the church would work for justice and equality for all. We pray particularly for those in our society impacted most by the COVID virus that they might receive the protection they need.
God of surprises, you call us
from the narrowness of our traditions
to new ways of being Church,
from the captivities of our culture
to creative witness for justice,
from the smallness of our horizons
to the bigness of your vision.
Clear the way in us, your people,
that we might call others to freedom
and renewed faith.