Monday, May 02, 2005

Heaven Bound!

When Jesus said something about being the vine and our being the branches (John 15:1), I took that in a way, as a reference of the interconnectedness of every human being on the planet. That got me into an itsy-bitsy bit of trouble.
The trouble is that the Jesus I believe in can enter any and every human heart. To me, putiing a denominational barrier or even a doctrinal barrier on the ability of Christ to reach anyone he chooses sounds very much like trying to put God into a box. In fact, I don't think you can put an economic, racial/ethnic or gender barrier (even gay/straight barrier) on the ability of God's love to reach out anywhere anytime to anyone. Of course, I see Jesus in more cosmic terms than some. Mind you that's just because the Bible says he was there at the creation of the world. (John 1) Therefore the Jesus I see is more cosmic than some can envision.
I like being an Episcopalian. I like a church that thinks outside the box. I think Jesus can reach into the Episcopal Church. But I would never think that he could not reach out to any other denomination. In fact the whole denominational thing I find a bit troublesome. I dare say Jesus can reach into the Baptist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, or the Pentecostal Holiness traditon...even into the Right Wing Evangelical Churches. I don't even think that we can box Jesus up into Christianity and exclude the rest of the world. The love of God reaches around the world and can enter any and every human heart at will.
What bothers me is the notion that any one of us either as an individual or as a church has a corner on the truth. Even the good old fashioned "Bible Believing Christian" doesn't have a corner on the truth in my Book. Though some think they do in their Book. That's because any and all of us can read, interpret and think about the story behind that Book as freely as we wish.
Personally, having studied the Book in its original tongue, and from a historic and critical point of view with scholarly integrity has a certain appeal to me. I like the process of critical thought. I also like science. I love knowledge. I am a devote of the Truth.
Galileo did too. But the church didn't want to look into the telescope for a few hundred years. It may take a while for the church to see the inclusive love of God as it reaches out like the tentacles of the Vine which we spoke about in church today.
So what about the part about being pruned back and bundled up and burned? (John 15:6) Ah yes, I remember when we used to do that to bunches of people. We used to stone them to death too.
Well, I'm not so sure I want to go back to that approach....but there's bunches of folks who think that's precisely what God's got in store for us if we don't shape up.
mmmmmmm.........not sure I buy that.
Perhaps what I buy is the notion that there's some very good and fruitful parts of us...and some other stuff in each human life that could use some pruning back. I'm sure of it in my case. How about you?
Now, I'd be hard pressed to say that any particular human being or group of human beings is going to hell. There are those who can say that and honestly think that they're talking good old fashined bible believing religion.
Nope, I don't buy it, not for a moment. I think you're going to heaven. Me too, please. There is a difference between Bad News and Good News. The Good News is that you are going to heaven. Some folks would say you're going to hell. Nope! I made a promise to preach the Good News. So, even though I do think that we can all use a bit of pruning back, I still think we're heaven bound. I know that as I face God day after day, I ask for a bit of patience as "I press on to the upward call". Philippians 3:14.
Oh well, somebody got teed off with me that I talk like this. Oh well, I didn't mean to cause offense. But there are lots of folks at the margins that I believe that we are called to reach out to. Seems to me that the Founder did a lot of that by seeking out "the lost sheep", the halt, maimed, and all the other outcasts from the Temple.
That got him into a peck of trouble too!
God Bless us, everyone!
Fr. Paul