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Hallwood Ecumenical Parish

Bethesda, Palace Fields & St.Mark’s, Beechwood

Church of England – Methodist – United Reformed Church

www.hallwoodparish.org.uk

5 July 2020

 

… friend of tax collectors and other outcasts

These words, in Matthew 11:19b, come after Jesus draws a picture of two groups of people unable to agree about their approach to life – neither crying nor dancing seemed to be acceptable to them.  Jesus then likens them to the contrasting reactions to himself and John the Baptist.  John fasted and drank no wine and they said he had a demon in him.  But Jesus was condemned as a drinker and a glutton because he ate and drank normally.  You just can’t please some people!

As Lisa has said before, when we all get back to church some things are obviously going to be different – they’ll have to be, at least for the foreseeable future.  But the break from what we’ve been used to has given us the chance to think carefully about the things we “have always done”, and to choose whether we want to return to those ways, or create something different.  Not necessarily totally different, but still, not exactly the same.  There will be those who might be tempted to resist changing, as well as those who will be delighted with changes, and those who don’t really want to change but recognise that compromises have to be made.  Sitting at a social distance from others and muttering that we don’t like it and don’t want it is a possible course of action, but, frankly, helpful to no-one, including oneself!

It may be best to avoid becoming known as drinkers and gluttons, but what about being friends of outcasts?  Or, more specifically, people who are not part of our church community, whose worth we may be tempted to ignore?  The tensions of lockdown have led to an increase in the numbers of people joining in worship online, finding some solace in what is being offered.  When services resume, will they go to church?  Some may, but I doubt that the majority will.  Should they be criticised for that; called hypocrites, and their worthiness questioned?  Of course not.  Like us, they are seekers after truth and relevance for their lives.  In the “new normal” they may find that within our walls, or they may not.  In either case, let us welcome them as friends when we meet them, and help them on their journey.  I think it’s probably what Jesus would have done, and if you disagree, let’s still be friends.

Penny Hennessey

Hallwood Ecumenical Parish

Bethesda, Palace Fields & St.Mark’s, Beechwood

Church of England – Methodist – United Reformed Church

www.hallwoodparish.org.uk


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