Showing posts from February, 2015

Stepping forward to Jesus in the Confessional: a perfectly Anglican practice

There is a role reversal in today's gospel. A leper, outcast from society, approaches Jesus who freely goes out among the people. Jesus heals him, and sends him to the priest to be readmitted into the community, but as the former leper proclaims with joy his new freedom, he condemns Jesus to go into hiding, moving outside society.

The gospel is not, of course, primarily about physical disease. The real rock and contagion which affects absolutely every human being is the disease of sin, spiritual disease. And yet the role reversal is possible here, too. Jesus takes our sin upon himself, along with the humiliation, rejection and suffering that goes with it.

Yet before the leper could be healed by Jesus, he had to take the first step towards the Lord. He had to break the taboo whereby lepers never approached those who did not share their affliction.

We too have to take the first step towards Jesus if we want healing for our sins. For most of us, most of the time, this can be done by …

Breaking news: God doesn't hate you

"Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made..." In the Calvinist spirit of the age, the ceremony of ashing at Ash Wednesday was abolished in 1548, albeit without the consent of Convocation or Parliament. Yet the first sentence of the Collect for Ash Wednesday shows that the Calvinist spirit did not prevail. God hates nothing that he has made. The religion we inherit from the Book of Common Prayer will not allow that God creates the greater part of humanity only in order to condemn them to damnation, Calvin's notion that he predestines some to heaven and others to hell, or as William Blake would later put it:
Some are Born to sweet delight, Some are Born to Endless Night.
Rather, in the words of the Prayer for Humble Access, we know God as 'the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy,' the biblical God to whom we can all, like his people Israel, return in penitence time and time again. And so it is that George Herbert, a priest a…