Dear Friends,

I went to the David Hunter Memorial Lecture last night and was thinking – as we drove away – that the word I would use the describe the evening was ‘feisty’.

But I’m embarrassed now I chose that word. Calling the evening’s speakers ‘feisty’ minimises the depth and intensity of what they expressed. The word I should have chosen is ‘angry’.

We heard angry speakers on Tuesday night. People who are angry because they see injustice. People who are angry because they have been drawing attention to this injustice for years and years, and years, and progress, if any, has been slow. They were angry and rightly so.

At church camp we explored the gospel readings for last Sunday, the account of Jesus driving the money changers from the temple. Another story of someone who was angry and rightly so.

And I re-read this very helpful paragraph in an essay by Debie Thomas I read many years ago.

If you feel this way [that good Christian people are not means to get angry], then consider that righteous anger is very much what Jesus did. Remember him cleansing the temple with a whip? Remember him blasting the religious hypocrites of his day for oppressing the poor? Remember him rebuking his disciples for blocking vulnerable children from his presence? Yes, Jesus forgave. But he also raged. He also resisted all violations of sanctuary. He also called out anyone who blocked access to his Father’s house. He also denounced the mistreatment of the most vulnerable and beleaguered people in his society.
In other words, there is a time to get angry and stay angry. A time to insist on change. A time to say, “Enough is enough.” Yes, we are called to practice and preach forgiveness. But I believe it is also the task of the Church to take sin as seriously as Jesus did — with impassioned and sustained cries for justice.
At camp we explored what blocked our access to the Father’s house. But we also need to need to think about what blocks the access of others to the Father’s house. What blocks the access of others to fullness of life – to full human flourishing? Are we prepared to be angry and rightly so about these things?
There is a prayer we use sometimes called the Franciscan Benediction. Here are the words:
May God bless us with discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
so that we may live from deep within our hearts.
May God bless us with anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of God’s creations
so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless us with tears
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them
and to turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless us with just enough foolishness
to believe that we can make a difference in the world,
so that we can do what others claim cannot be done:
to bring justice and kindness to all our children
and all our neighbours who are poor. Amen.
Amen to that!
PS Some of you will have heard the sad news that Don White passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, following a stroke. There will be a small family ceremony at the crematorium next week, but we will be setting aside a time in this Sunday’s service as well to remember him.

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