Bearded Man Trashes Church


ImageI like to think of myself at some level as being anti establishment, certainly religious establishment! However looking at myself in the mirror wearing my clerical shirt and suit, officiating over communion, and rites of passage and leading five congregations, I realise to my sadness that in my working life at least, screams establishment at least to those who don’t know me well. EEK

The kind of anti establishmentarianism I am drawn, too is the kind in the character of the three photos above. In the actions of Jesus as he trashed the temple courts of its hypocrisy and greed, during the week of the festival of the passover.

At some point the above three people made a decision in their lives, to not pander to what is popular or the expected norm, and in doing so became inspirational legends that can inspire us. These three amongst many others we could choose, chose to give themselves sacrificially for a cause that was flavoured by grace.

A grace that isn’t cheap but is the giving of self to the cause of another. Jesus, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa offer us a picture of grace, one that over turned the tables on injustice, and the political and social enslavement of the poor and infirm, they challenged and crushed the societal prevailing wind of attitude, not with military violence or manipulation. But grace.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what the church calls Palm Sunday with not an army but people who experienced that grace that God offers all, and Jesus in his washing the disciples feet, dying on a  cross for something we did, proves the power and persuasiveness of true Grace. Grace that is lived with effort and sometimes ridicule on behalf of the other, but is absolutely worth it, though it may cost all you have.

Are you, am I, prepared to pour out my life for something bigger than me? So that we truly know what it is to be salt and light to the bland religiosity we might experience.

As a Minister in the UK Methodist Church I officiate and attend many meetings and one such district meeting ran as it always had, the routine was well known and well worn. Until a particular moment when someone took the podium and spoke passionately on behalf of evangelism. The room came alive, not just with the sense of the Holy Spirit, but I noticed that the usual grey faces around the room, suddenly became full of colour and vibrance people wanted to be heard, what was being said mattered to them. just like the people entering into Jerusalem with Jesus on palm sunday and also standing shouting crucify him, crucify him, crucify him,

I follow one who is anti establishment and I pray that I can live unto the colour of his creed, his grace poured out on behalf of others. I pray for my church, to risk stepping out from dry religiosity into the full bodied life christ offers us all, and which the church reminds us off this week especially.

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