If this were a letter …

7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:7

A Letter

A Letter

If this were a letter, it would be pastoral in nature. Though there are various reasons when such a missive is sent, in this case it would be penned to people and/or faith communities that have experienced some trauma. Whether that is connected to illness, death, fear, conflict or violence, it would be intended to offer the person/community care and compassion in times of tension and hurt …

If this were a pastoral letter, it would likely be sent to a community of faith in Winnipeg Presbytery that has recently experienced, during a time of worship, a confrontation with the Other. In this experience, the threat of violence was explicit and the range of emotions, from disbelief to fear, were real and understandable …

If this were a pastoral letter, it would – in the fear and concern – celebrate that Jesus’ admonition to not throw stones at the Other was not only honoured but gratefully lived out. When appropriate fear could have easily overwhelmed the parable’s teaching, resolution without violence – from either involved – was grace-present …

If this were a pastoral letter it would recognise that in this world of shadows, mental illness is not only demonised, it is weaponised. For the least in our communities, access to healthcare resources are often the first to be cut. Too often our cultural response is to keep the Other at a distance. In this cultural milieu, we ask our first responders to ensure the social good often with inadequate tools.  We equip those who are called to places of triage with an orientation toward enforcement, as opposed to flexibility and compassion. Through the lens of law and order, too often the ill become a statistic, as opposed to a Sister or Brother in need of help …

If this were a pastoral letter, it would recognise the tension – even paradox – for a Christian community, called to care for the least, but which comes to be confronted with our cultural predisposition to weaponise. In this contradiction – care and fear – there are no easy trite answers. As those who are called to bear Light into the world, it is appropriate to name the difficulty of navigating when shadows enter our sacred places. This conundrum arises from the world’s temptation to establish simple binaries of right and wrong. To see the Other as a flattened story … yet the parables of stones stands as a plumb line for those endeavouring to discipleship …

If this were a pastoral letter, there would be no conclusion, other than an affirmation that it is not easy. It would acknowledge that fear is an appropriate response to violence and danger. It would express gratitude that grace was present and the lack of stones thrown has made space for healing. It would recognise that a time of healing and reflection is important, in order to embrace once more a compassionate orientation for self and Other. It would offer, finally, love and gratitude for the blessing that you are, for your presence to model an awareness to respond with care in a moment of fear and for endeavouring to bear Light in the midst of the shadows in which we all walk …

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2017-01-20T12:31:06+00:00 January 20th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

Your reflections are most welcome!

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