Crossing divides with Jesus

by Tom Greggs.

I have a terrible habit. Well, I have several; ask my wife for details! But the terrible habit I have which is relevant to this context is that every morning before anything else that I do I take my phone and press the BBC app to read the news. Before praying, before a coffee, before telling my wife I love her, before getting a shower, my addiction to the news has to be satisfied.

Part of this addiction stems from what seems to be an ever-increasing changed reality in the world: we are divided, and we are entrenching ourselves in our divides. Brexit is the pressing example, but there are so many. And globally, there are increased tensions between nations, and there is a tide of populism which sets one group at odds with another and intensifies differences.

Having grown up in what seem to be (for me at least) the halcyon days of the 1990’s with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, the Good Friday Agreement, and Third Way Politics, it is easy to see this new ‘glocalism’ as it is termed with all of its potential for vicious cycles of divisive politics as a new phenomena. Perhaps some of us feel a little like we are reliving past global periods from the previous century—whether the 1910’s or 1930’s. But the capacity for humans to create divisions among ourselves is as old as time. And it is an issue to which the gospel addresses itself directly.

I cannot help but think of Jesus’ engagement with the Samaritans when faced with the divisions we see in our contemporary world. It’s difficult for us to understand the level of hostility, stretching back many centuries, that existed between Jews and Samaritans.[i] The Samaritans were the descendants of the Jews who did not go into exile and were hostile to the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. Their purity as a people was called into question, and, although they recognized only the first five books of the Jewish scriptures, they did follow Jewish ritual. These themes were focused on the establishment of a rival temple at Mt Gerezim, and the recognition of a different line of priestly descent. Their proximity to and alienation from the Jewish people led to fierce rivalry between the peoples.[ii] Perhaps we hear this most clearly of all in Jesus’ interaction with the woman of Samaria: “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)” (Jn 4:9). Even the basics of water seem to be an impossible offering for these two so different people—divided by religious grouping and by gender.

When we read stories of Jesus engaging with these groups, we are wise to recall his capacity to cross divisions and divides with grace and with truth because Jesus never leaves the divisions there without interrupting, traversing and disturbing the divides. He doesn’t blur the lines, or falsely claim that “we all agree really”. He doesn’t sacrifice truth for grace any more than he sacrifices grace for truth. He is after all clear: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (Jn 4:22). But this doesn’t stop him affirming, ministering to and loving the member of the other ‘tribe’ as one of God’s children.

Jesus, after all, repeatedly attends to the needs of the Samaritans he meets. As well as the role of needs in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, in the story of Jesus cleansing the ten lepers in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus attends to the Samaritan’s physical needs by curing him of his leprosy (Lk. 17.16-19).  Human needs are also pointed to in the famous story of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37). Feeling pity for the injured man, the Samaritan tends to his needs (v.33), and the Christian is charged in her relation with the other from whom she is divided to respond with mercy, and to recognize the mercy with which others may attend to her.

Jesus acknowledges who these people are before God—as God’s children despite the tribal differences that exist. He does not villainise them, but makes them heroes and examples of God’s mercy (the Good Samaritan), or those who give thanks to God (the Samaritan Leper), or one who will worship in spirit and in truth (the Samaritan woman). He does not see them first as Samaritans, but first—even in all their divisions from Jesus—as the children of the One God.

What are we, in so divided a nation and so divided a world, to learn from the one who crossed the most difficult socio-political divides of his own age with truth and with grace?

 

 

[i] Relations between the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel following the period of the united monarchy of Saul, David and Solomon were never particularly good. When the northern kingdom fell in 722-721BCE, the Assyrians deported the Israelites and brought in pagans from neighbouring nations who worshipped Yahweh alongside other gods. This was a practice that 2 Kings 17.41 suggests was carried out by the descendents of these new inhabitants, thus polluting the purity of the theology and ritual of the northern nation. Moreover, in the years 589 and 587BCE the ancient Jewish people were disrupted by the most cataclysmic disaster of their history to that point. Having been brought to the promised land, having built the temple and centralised the cult upon it, the people were sent into exile by Nebuchadnezzar. The effects of this were enormous, and most significant among them was the loss of the temple in 587BCE. The people who returned following the exile began to understand themselves as superior to the people who had remained in the land, and to their neighbours to the north who lived around the city of Samaria. The root of this antagonism seems to be the opposition of the authorities in Samaria to the rebuilding of the temple and the city walls of Jerusalem. The Samaritans had their own rival priesthood and temple at Mount Gerezim, and opposed the Jerusalem cult, even enacting violence towards pilgrims travelling through Samaria.

[ii] For more on the Samaritans, see Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity Second Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 378f. & 499-501; and Richard Bauckham, ‘The Scrupulous Priest and the Good Samaritan: Jesus’ Parabolic Interpretation of the Law of Moses’, New Testament Studies, 44:4 (1998), 475-489.

 

Who represents?

by Raj Bharat Patta.

As a child I remember the ‘parable of the ten virgins’ (Matthew 25: 1-13) enacted as a musical play by the moms in our local Bethany Lutheran Church in India. Ten women dressed in white, holding lanterns in their hands journeyed to meet the bridegroom. Tired and lowering the flame of their lanterns, they all fell asleep. Suddenly at repeated loud shouts, they woke one after the other, and started adjusting the flame for more light. Five carried a bottle of oil and filled their lanterns, but the others did not have sufficient oil and were struggling to trim their lanterns. These five women requested their friends to lend some oil; but the others did not have sufficient to share and directed them to a dealer to buy more. The groom arrives and enters the wedding banquet with the five women whose lanterns are burning. When the other five knock, calling him, ‘Lord, Lord,’ the reply comes that he does not know them. The facial expressions of the five women who made it inside are gloomy that their five other friends could not join them. The woman narrator of the play concludes: ‘Keep awake, be prepared to meet the returning groom, for he can come at any time of the day or night.’ The play was written, directed, sung and performed by the moms of the Women’s Fellowship in our local Church. This enacted parable has stayed in my memory, and now when I am reading Matthew 25: 1-13, it comes alive, making me nostalgic for my local congregation.

The role of women in parables provides a political hermeneutical key in understanding this gospel passage. Nicola Slee observes the male dominance in New Testament parables with the preponderance of male characters and roles.[i] She notes that in the Gospel of Matthew alone out of a total of 85 characters, as mentioned in 104 parables and sayings, 73 are men and 12 are women. Even among the 12 women, 10 are these bridesmaids, which makes only 3 instances where women are mentioned in the whole 104 parables. We are called to recognise the under-representation of women and their ‘invisibility’ in the Scriptures, challenging readers to ‘hear to speech’ the voices of women in the text. This example exposes the politics of recording a parable; not only do male writers and narrators hardly mention any women, when they do, they use male dominant language. In v.2, he introduces five as ‘foolish’ and five as ‘wise.’ The male writer begins with a prejudice against the first five by calling them ‘foolish.’ In our mom’s church play, all ten women entered the stage as friends with lanterns in their hands, all of them were dressed in white. The first five were trying to help the other five by directing them to oil dealers, and they had gloomy faces when their friends did not make it to the banquet. This enactment demonstrates that if women were recording their own stories, representing their own experience and narrating it in their own language, the parable would have had a totally different perspective. This therefore calls us to confess the politics of patriarchy in the text, and such a confession invites us to a subversive reading of the narratives of the parables from the context of invisible, colonised and under-represented communities. The politics of re-presentation must be addressed in any hermeneutical engagement of Biblical texts – this parable of the ten women challenges us towards that.

This is a parable of the ten unnamed women. Most translations have recorded the women in this parable as virgins, some others as bridesmaids; however, the politics of re-presentation challenges us not to define any one’s identity by their role or status or occupation. The caste system in India and elsewhere has been operating on the notions of purity and pollution, for people are divided into dominant castes and outcastes based on descent and occupation. To recognise people as people and not through any of their roles or status or occupation is an important marker for a just and equal society.

The parable then is a recognition of the fact that the divine in Jesus communicates the eschatological message of last judgement through these unnamed, under-represented women, who at times in Christian history and, from some perspectives still in the Christian present, are seen as incapable of being the bearers of the Gospel. This parable therefore is an affirmation of the strength of women as bearers, instruments, agencies, and resources of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In our moms’ play, when it was written and performed by all women, one could feel the dancing of the Gospel coming alive, for the Spirit of God through our moms gripped us all to turn towards God, and made a lasting impact and impression in the lives of the audience there.

This parable challenges us to discuss who represents whom today in our churches and societies. It is time that the Church starts hearing to speech those on the margins and giving a listening ear to the voice of the divine which has been groaning to be heard. Representation is aligned deeply with identity, and identity is a sum total of who we are as a person and the groups to which we belong to. In the multicultural post-secular British context today, the identity of those on the margins matters, and their representation is imperative in nurturing faith for our times.

 

[i] Slee, Nicola, “Parables and women’s experience,” in Modern Churchman, 26 no 2 1984, p 20-31.

Digging Deep for Pearls

by Barbara Glasson.

According to the Myers Briggs personality indicator I am very strongly introvert. ‘Don’t be silly, darling, of course you’re not!’ was the response of my extrovert mother. Which proved the point really; the point being that I thought she never listened and she thought I never told her anything.

As a child the thought of ‘being introvert’ hadn’t yet been invented. The definition was ‘being shy’ and this was something that you could clearly get over. Getting over being shy was just a matter of plucking up courage and saying something, learning some social graces and putting yourself ‘out there’. Being shy could stop you having friends and make you feel gauche and isolated. Being shy was a problem. But being introvert is most certainly not a problem – it’s a gift, it’s not something to be got over, it’s something to be claimed!

Being introvert is not the same as being unfriendly. As a friendly introvert one is in the cleft stick of really loving people and being totally exhausted by them. Really liking people means you will listen to them deeply and intently and really empathise with what they are saying; being introvert also means that all that intense listening is going to fill up your head until it has no room for thinking. The result is you forget things and get easily confused by simple tasks, well that’s my excuse for leaving my laptop behind.

I’ve just returned from the Greenbelt festival, which is why I am in a room upstairs on my own writing this (on my returned laptop) and recovering from being with fifteen thousand people for a whole weekend. It’s not that I don’t like people, I really do, I find them interesting and weird, complicated and funny. It’s just that, in my opinion, like chocolates, you’re better off enjoying them one at a time rather than by the box-full.

My Greenbelt didn’t seem much like anybody else’s. I didn’t go to any talks or any music or any stalls but I really got to know a lovely taxi driver from Ghana called Alec and the security guard on night duty at the gate and, whilst reading poetry out loud to myself in an empty tent I met two lovely young people and read them some poetry too. And on the Sunday morning, when there was the huge communion service in the main arena, which was all about Christmas and had camels and everything, I stayed in the Methodist sponsored tent called the Foundry to listen from afar.

But interestingly, so did about a hundred other people, all seeking quiet and gentle conversation and good coffee and that was so lovely. I moved outside on the grass and smiled, because there are a lot of us introverts around.

So what’s the story? They do say, if you don’t know what an extrovert is thinking you haven’t listened and if you don’t know what an introvert is thinking you haven’t asked. And an introvert’s ‘story’ will take time and pondering and gentleness to form and find words. We need space (and good coffee) and we’re not afraid of the silences and long pauses. In a group or meeting introverts may well be the last to speak, not because we are shy, but because we are still working out what to say. Just be patient, don’t keep asking if we are ok, just bear with us and eventually, with time, you never know there may well be a pearl of great price!

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth

by Christopher Collins.

My holiday reading this summer included Yaa Gyasi’s outstanding first novel Homegoing. It’s a masterpiece of story telling following the fate of the descendants of two sisters born in Africa. One is sold into slavery and the other becomes a slave trader’s wife – the effects of which fissure down the generations: from the Gold Coast of Africa to the plantations of Mississippi, missionary schools to the dive bars of Harlem. It’s the story of one family separated by generations and oceans.

The story ends in the current generation. Marcus is living the dream of a college education researching the enduring scar of the trade – discrimination, accusation, addiction and poverty. But the more he delves into the stories of his own family, he becomes increasingly aware of the disconnect from the culture in which their fate has placed them. It is only when he visits the Gold Coast, home, and swims in the ocean in which his ancestors swam, and saw the land that his ancestors farmed, that he found connection, peace and healing.

Healing was in a homegoing to the land that fundamentally formed him.

And that got me thinking about how we theologically respond to the climate emergency that is unfolding before our very eyes.

We could approach it by looking at the consequences of climate change through the lens of the Parable of the Good Samaritan we read in Luke 10. The ones who suffer the most, like the beaten man, are not the ones who have added disproportionally to the problem. Changes to the world’s climate have their greatest impact on the nations in the global South. Nations that don’t have the means to adapt quickly to their changing climate.

In that context, I wonder who historians who look back on the twentieth and early twenty-first century will say are like the Levite and Priest – the ones who saw the need but walked on by. Who might the Samaritan be? The one who responds helpfully to the great need to help their world-wide neighbours who are devastated by drought and chronic hunger or who are forced from their homes because of flooding and rising sea levels?

As we look on the consequences of climate change and learn to be the Samaritan in the story, we might need to learn to “love wastefully” as the Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong described it. Loving wastefully means living “a life defined by love that will not seek to protect itself or to justify itself. It will be content simply to be itself and to give itself away with abandon.” [1] Surely this is how the Samaritan loved and how we can mitigate the consequences of a changing climate.

But, is it enough? Is it trying to heal a wound without healing the cause?

In his latest book, They Will Inherit the Earth, John Dear, the Catholic priest, author and activist reflects on words found in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5.5). Meekness, he writes, is what Thomas Merton recognised as non-violence. It is following a life of non-violence, he argues, that enables a oneness with all of God’s creation in which we will turn from our destructive ways.[2]

So, perhaps we need to be more than the ones who bandage and console because, in the view of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we need to find ways to stop the beating in the first place. To live a life of non-violence. Surely this is how we can be the best possible global neighbours and it’s how we can find our own homegoing to the earth out of which we are formed.

 

[1] Spong, John Shelby, Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy, (New York: Harper Collins, 2016) p.366

[2] Dear, John, They Will Inherit the Earth, (New York: Orbis Books, 2018), p.2

Putting the Church in its Place

By Neil Richardson.

‘The world is too much with us’. So wrote William Wordsworth. Suppose we change one word, and consider how the Church is too much with us. To adapt some more famous words (Dr Johnson’s): when two Methodists meet – especially ordained ones – their first talk is of the Church.

We are too church-centred. Admittedly, the English word ‘church’ does duty for many things: a building, a congregation, an organization, the Church universal…… But expressions like ‘supporting the Church’ and ‘keeping the Church going’ are simply not in the New Testament. No wonder Methodists (and perhaps others) talk of ‘having a Sunday off’ – i.e off church.

We often see both the Church and the world wrongly. When that happens, evangelism becomes proselytising: claiming adherents for the Church, as if the Church were an organisation in competition with others – other churches, other faiths, the world itself.

Thomas Merton, in one of his books, posed the question: ‘Is the world a problem?’ It seemed to be a problem to Christians from the beginning. ‘You are not of the world’, says Jesus in John’s gospel (John 15.19). ‘Do not love the world’, says a later writer, (1 John 2.15). Does this mean Christians were called to be ‘in the world, but not of it’? I think not. We often misunderstand John’s gospel on this point. But even if we were called to be in the world, but not of it, doesn’t this mean in practice a nervous balancing act, dipping a toe into the murky waters of the world, wary of being contaminated or compromised? So we Christians appear to be in the world a little reluctantly: semi-detached members of the human race whose real home is elsewhere. A church then becomes a comfort zone, with dissent and controversy screened out, as in ‘Let’s not disturb our nice fellowship by talking about politics – especially Br – it’.

John’s gospel doesn’t call disciples of Jesus to be ‘in the world, but not of it’. Certainly, those words are there – but not in that sequence. The picture John’s gospel gives of Jesus is key here. He is our archetype: not ‘of this world’, because his origin was with God. Yet God sent him into the world (John 3.16 etc). And that is the right order for disciples: ‘born again’ and sent into the world: ‘As the Father sent me, so I send you’ (John 20.19-23). Compare our baptism with that of Jesus. Jesus began his ministry with an astonishing act of solidarity with his people – that is to say, the entire human race – ‘The Word was made flesh’. His ministry ended as it began: ‘numbered with the transgressors’ – a death which became his eternal intercession for the whole human race. So our baptism – baptism into Christ– means joining the human race, as represented by Jesus. And Jesus was more human than any of us – immersed in the life of the world.

‘Born again’ can be misunderstood. St Paul writes of ‘the renewing of our minds’ (Romans 12.1-2). That was Simon Peter’s experience in what has been called his second conversion (Acts 10-11). He saw that outsiders weren’t unclean after all. He learned to love foreigners; he embraced the world. And off he went – far away from Jerusalem and Galilee – to places like Caesarea and Corinth. This ‘renewing of our minds’ (‘born again’) is utterly essential for the renewal of the Church. How can we evangelise, unless we are evangelised?

Being a really open church involves far more than allowing other organisations to use our premises. It requires ‘the renewing of our minds’. A church leader once remarked to me, ‘I regard everyone as in, unless they opt out’. If, as I believe, that is faithful to Jesus and the New Testament, then why has the Church turned that into its very opposite: everyone is out(side) unless they opt in? So the Church embraces the world – as its Creator always has.

Being a semi-detached member of the human race is an attractive option these days, and has been down the centuries for Christians – a kind of Gnosticism which doesn’t take seriously the world as God’s creation. But it was not the way of Jesus. Our baptism into Christ means becoming human as he was (and is), and really joining the human race.

This is how Merton concludes his answer to his question ‘Is the world a problem?’

‘The world cannot be a problem to anyone who sees that ultimately Christ, the world, his brother (and sister) and his own inmost ground are made one and the same in grace and redemptive love.’

Measure each day, not by how much you do for the Church, but how full it is of God – and, therefore, of prayer and love.

 

The Sanctity of Homes

by John Howard.

Some years ago I arrived at a farm just after Israeli troops had left having demolished a home in the Jordan Valley. Around me was a scene of devastation, not just the remains of the building strewn across the land, but every item of possession that helps make a house a home. I helped the family recover some of the objects and then, with their lives desecrated around us, the wife and mother of four small children asked me if I would like a cup of tea. Despite the tragedy all around us Palestinian hospitality had to take over – despite everything this was their home and I was a guest in it.

The memory of this incident was brought back to me this week when the news came through of the multiple house demolitions in Sur Baher, East Jerusalem. After a ruling in the Israeli Supreme Court that these buildings were too close to the Separation Barrier,  despite having been built legally with permission from the Palestinian Authority, the court ruled that the demolition orders on the buildings should be upheld. These demolitions are the first to have been carried out for this reason, by the Israeli Military in Palestinian controlled area A.[i] This now leaves many hundreds of other homes vulnerable to such treatment.

What does a home mean? What makes the distinction between a house and a home? For many of us there is an experience of home – we know when we feel at home. Returning home is a different experience to arriving anywhere else – places may be very comfortable but that doesn’t mean they are home. That family in the Jordan valley knew their home had been violated and their hospitality to me affirmed their sense of what was still their home despite the best efforts of the Israeli Defence Force.

The Bible is clear in many places that hospitality is a virtue. The writer of the first letter of Peter encourages practice hospitality ungrudgingly (1 Peter 4:9). But the virtue of hospitality is closely linked to home. How do you practice hospitality if you have no home? The family offering me tea after their house had been demolished were not only practicing hospitality – they were also offering non violent resistance. Despite the wrong that had been done to them, they were affirming that this was their home from which they could still practice hospitality. They were demonstrating sumud – the Arabic word for “steadfastness” that has come to mean so much in the struggle for justice in Palestine.

The Bible doesn’t reflect upon the nature of what makes a home as such, however, the context of the many references to “home” illustrate that it is a place to be revered, a reward that is linked to good life. Proverbs 3:33 says, “The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the abode of the righteous.  One of the rewards of peace is security at home. Isaiah 32:18 says that in God’s reign, My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

In the Gospels, again, we see that the home is a place of comfort and security. Jesus rests in Mary and Martha’s home (Luke 10:38). After the crucifixion John takes Mary “into his own home.” (John 19:27). When in the Acts of the Apostles, in Macedonia, Lydia, a new convert, is accepted into the church, she immediately invites Paul and his companions to stay in her home. She is showing the virtue of hospitality, but this incident is more than that. By accepting her offer, Paul and his companions are accepting Lydia.  In Matthew 8:20 Jesus laments Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. The absence of a “home” is clearly a reason for sadness.

This very brief set of biblical examples could be expanded upon with many other references that illustrate that a home is a blessing, a place that is special. Is it too much to say that there is a sanctity in a home and its violation is an especial sin? In Micah 2:2 this is addressed quite specifically: “Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it because it is in their power. They covet fields and seize them; houses and take them away; they oppress householders and house, people and their inheritance. Therefore thus says the Lord…..”

Homes are special. To violate them in any way is wrong. Violation can come in many forms but the deliberate destruction of Palestinian homes such as we have seen in the last week is especially sinister. Such destruction is explicitly condemned by Hebrew scriptures.

 

 

[i] In the Oslo Accords most of the West Bank was divided into three areas, A, B & C. Area “A” was in full Palestinian control, area “C” in full Israeli control and area “B” in shared control. This was meant to be a temporary measure in 1993 for up to five years but it still applies today.

Interrupting Stories

by Barbara Glasson.

It is of course an amazing thing that new technology is being invented to scan the brains of people who cannot speak and formulate sentences from what they are thinking. With such incredible technology someone stuck without verbal communication can indicate their needs and desires. It is also quite terrifying. Supposing, down the way, every thought that passes through our heads will be heard: ‘That person looks awful in that hat’;  ‘I really don’t like you’; ‘ This food is horrible’…!

Of course, our inner discourse can be released in other ways than by technology – by dementia or alcohol or any substance that causes us to lose our inhibitions. And it can also be released by the use of the internet, in which a stream of consciousness can emerge into the public realm without any of the filters that would be applied to a face to face encounter.

I am part of a small intentional community that prays together each day. In this community we are using the prayers of the Corrymeela community and in the morning, in our separate places we say the words, ‘We begin this day alone ….’ I have repeated this morning prayer  in the quietness of a multitude of bedrooms that I have stayed in over the last few weeks as I begin to travel around the Methodist Connexion as President, these words have deepened both my sense of privacy and community. I am alone in company, we are together alone.

This dynamic of alone-ness and community runs like a thread through the stories of Jesus, as he travels with the disciples. Jesus is continually in relationship with others and yet also curiously aloof from others as he is interrupted by a series of extraordinary encounters on the way. In particular we hear of encounters with inconvenient people, Zaccheus, Bartimeus, the woman with the flow of blood, all of which are not on the original travel itinerary. Walter Brueggemann in his book Interrupting Silence says, ‘Our tradition in faith is a long series of inconvenient interruptions’.[i]

Over the last few weeks I have had a wonderfully rich programme of experiences, from a celebrating communion on Susanna Wesley’s Epworth kitchen table to marching with the trade unions and honouring our history at Tolpuddle, visiting an observatory on the Isles of Scilly and opening a  new church in Poole. And whilst I have been busy doing all these things there have also been a long series of ‘inconvenient interruptions’ that are probably more important than the job in hand. Conversations in vestries, stories told at church doors, insights from scholars and practitioners, feisty e-mails, a very fine chat with a little boy on a boat wearing a shark hat! I am learning that these ‘interruptions’ are the threshold of learning and new ways of seeing, rich and precious as well as incidental and inconvenient.

The Corrymeela prayers go on to say, ‘Let us live the life we are living …’  Living what is happening rather than what we feel should be happening, being present to others in their inconvenient interruptions, means a stilling of the inner discourse that we are glad people can’t hear. To live with integrity means holding together the contradictory convictions of myself and honouring all the parts of my inner world in order to be fully present to others and their contradictory convictions. We, that is the we that is me, begins the day alone, in order that we as separate human beings can be present to to the inconvenient interruptions by which the spirit can make doorways of grace.

As vice president, Clive and I travel with our question, ‘So what’s the story …?’ we are also discovering stories being written as we go, stories of encounter and reflection, of community and solitude and formed of many joyful and challenging inconvenient interruptions.

 

[i] Walter Brueggemann, Interrupting Silence (Westminster John Knox Press 2018) p.57.