God is love. God is good. Not all people behave well all the time, even though we are all formed in the image of God. This needs attention, and is getting attention in the media, in the streets, in our churches. We are taking responsibility for calling out the bad behaviour that oppresses, coerces and persecutes people of God in the workplace, in the worship place, where we meet and greet and eat, where we study, play, work, explore and create.
There has long been an imbalance of power between the genders in Western colonial systems, and it continues to contribute to domineering and subjugating behaviours. The time is now to attend to this redress, with intention, clarity and compassion. Where can we practice inclusion in our personal and corporate lives? How do we open the lines of communication, encourage and allow the Holy Spirit’s questions that are emerging, and create space for every voice in our conversations? There are emotional – for some, even post-traumatic stress – triggers each time we turn on the radio or the television. There are societal convulsions while hearing public testimony about misconduct, abuse, harassment; we are realizing that we do not really know our neighbours, our publicly elected officials. And often, they do not know us. There is a crisis of community. How do we get to know one another with honesty, respect, and humility? How do we allow ourselves to be vulnerable in ways that will build relationships across divides of political parties and fundamentally different theologies, recognizing our common humanity?
What dynamics are shifting in the balance of power, influence, authority? While this might cause initial consternation, how can we spiritually deepen to embrace these shifts, to augment and support each other? How is this already changing in the public sphere? Speaking to the Church, where can we meet this call to new awareness in our liturgies, in our hymnody, in our printed materials? What can we address outside our worship services – creating spaces of welcome, inclusion, expanding the reign of God to grow disciples of all stripes and designs? Much of our communication, inside the Church and in Church circles, is currently in coded language that perpetuates a system of control and paternalism. We have inherited this; now we have an opportunity and, especially, a call from the Holy Spirit, to adapt. The winds of change are blowing, and we need people to feel welcome and included in their own Church. The message of Jesus is liberating for all people, beyond the “citizens” of any particular culture or society – out to the fringes, beyond the margins, and all the way up to the top of the hierarchy.