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Anglican: Church and love of God
Thanks for sharing the story of your beautiful journey. I rejoice with
you in it, and I rejoice in your gifts to our church.
> So, I guess what I am asking is how *do* people come to the knowledge
> that God loves all people outside the body of his people? Clearly you
> believe they can. Clearly I don't understand.
> Peace, Jeffry
Thanks for asking rather than telling me what I believe. Thanks for not
concluding in advance that because of my beliefs I should leave.
While admittedly hard to understand, I am not the first to notice and
value people who come to understand God's love outside the community of
those most conspicuously gathered and named as 'The Church.'
Even before the founding of the Church, Jesus warned his disciples
that they were not his only community: "Other sheep I have who are
not of this fold. Them I love also."
The Gospel writers tell us that had the crowds not shouted 'hosannah' on
Palm Sunday, God would have made the very stones to do so.
Our Prayer Book calls on us to pray for "those whose faith is known to
The word for church in Greek, EKLESSIA, is not followed by "Inc." in
Scripture. The Church Catholic is the mystical body of Christ, into which
we who gather daily for Eucharist rightly profess membership. We are the
church by virtue of being 'called out.' The Church does not behave as the
Church when tied to our other agendas. Some are members of that body who
do not even know that they are; they have been baptized with a new spirit.
Black slaves sang, "Not everybody singing bout heaven gwine."
My world is filled with faithful atheists, atheists to the God of Hate who
is so steadily preached to them. For example, some gay young people boogy
into the night and go from the dance hall to the hospice to clean up vomit
and excrement of AIDS patients--and they long ago fled the communities
that scorn them. I find it unimaginable that God is poised on a throne
waiting to say, "But ah, now abides faith, hope and love, but love counts
for naught if you have not said the creeds every Sunday and gathered with
those who think they are so much better than you are!"
I pray that I may live as faithfully as many live who have no faith.
I say these things in an explicit and important context: I have abundant
faith. (I even say and mean the creeds, though they hardly measure my
faith.) I am involved in the work of the church, not only on my own, but
in building up faith communities through which God has brought thousands
upon thousands upon thousands into, or back into, The Episcopal Church --
through Integrity, through my parish, through the Diocese....
Faith is not my gift to God, but God's gift to me. God has abundantly
loved me, more so than I have yet even begun to fathom, none of which I
profess to understand.
Most people I work with won't go near a church, and many, many who love
and respect me wonder whether I might be just a bit 'off' for taking
seriously an institution which is steadily abusive. It's not important
that they understand: it's important that we love them as God has loved
us. They might begin to suspect that God loves them if they were to see
us loving one another, as you obviously do. I rejoice in your love--and
in your patience.
Joy to you!