What happens when your neighbours are naughty

24 Mar 2018

 We have been exploring the Lord's Prayer in our sermons during Lent. Last week's phrase was “deliver us from evil". As the story of Cambridge Analytica continued to unfold during the week, complete with reporters on their doorstep, we discovered that their door is next door to our door. And when there was a suspect package in their offices, we were cordoned off, and the students who were attending classes in philosophy in the church had an extra facet to consider.

“It makes you alert to it" somebody wrote to me during the week. “Deliver us from evil" as we find ourselves next door to, if not the evil that most scares and horrifies, certainly ways of behaving and the attitudes that lead to such behaviour, that are contrary to kingdom values.

The easy thing is to try to keep separate. To withdraw and remain untainted. The calls that are currently doing the rounds for people to boycott Facebook, reject social media, pull ourselves into a safe, sanctified space do have a certain appeal. To touch tar is to become defiled, after all. And there is good biblical advice to “come out from among them". Our early Baptist forebears would have recognised such advice – it shaped their attitude to being the church, along with much else.

But...but. Such advice does not seem to have appealed to Jesus. Far from withdrawing from those who were regarded as “unclean", he seems to have sought them out: healing lepers, praising, healing and restoring the menstrous woman, taking the dead child by the hand....welcoming in those whom others excluded. It's as if he believed – and practised – the conviction that it was not the unclean that soiled or contaminated the holy, but the kingdom and the loving that disinfected the tainted.

 

Deliver us from evil need not be a prayer to be removed from a guilty, broken, compromised world. It may be the prayer that our presence, our loving and living may be the means by which what is evil is neutralised.

What does that mean for us, living cheek by jowl with those currently being vilified as purveyors of sinfulness?

Among other things, I believe it means we should pray for them: Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

r that our presence, our loving and living may be the means by which what is evil is neutralised.

What does that mean for us, living cheek by jowl with those currently being vilified as purveyors of sinfulness?

Among other things, I believe it means we should pray for them: Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy.

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