Monday, 27 June 2016

No place like home

At the end of Luke 9 (51-62) Christ says to a disciple that he has no place to put his head while foxes and birds have there homes.  He further tells others to leave funerals and not say farewell to family members. Yet, Christians proclaim community and the need to look to the other and assist the other before ones self.  In deed, Paul in Galatians refers to the commandment to love neighbour over self (Gal. 5. 14).  A commandment that we fail to live up to in our parishes on a regular basis.  We continually turn to ourselves and if you would our homes.  In fact we do many o the things that Paul suggests not to do when our comforts are being or about to be disturbed (Gal 5.20-21)

I am not sure what the consequences are going to be for the British people in the long term but the vote on Thursday with regards to the European Union was a clear and emphatic vote to remain at home.  All decisions as I have expounded on in other blog posts, have consequences whether they are with regard to Britain's abstention from the EU or our own perceptions of how a Church should be laid out for worship.  In a manner of speaking both such decisions are made on the basis of where we feel at home or how we understand Christ's call on our lives.  No matter how we look at it, the comfort of home is the greatest comfort we have in this world for most of us.  It is where we find the greatest safety; it is where we can invite our friends; it is where we can relax from the pressures of life.  It is also where we find that which is most recognisable and comfortable.  We do not wish to be disturbed in our homes whether it is in the form of changing the furniture (ladies/gentleman how much resistance do you get if you ever suggest this), a new way of preaching in Church or the way the liturgy is undertaken or how we approach our political life in the wider world.  Such change is undertaken with enormous angst to ourselves.

Christ in the Wilderness series:The foxes have holes  - 
Stanley Spencer (1891- 1959) - Art Gallery of Western Australia

Stanley Spencer's painting, found in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, The Foxes have holes is a rendition of this reading from Luke.  The painting portrays Christ resting against a bank in the wilderness with foxes going in and out of their dens in the bank.  Christ's body is depicted as being at home as he rests against the bank, almost as if he is at one with the earth, yet his face portrays a yearning that can only be described as a yearning for home.  A spiritual home that is not found in the mundane things of the world, a world in which his body finds comfort and rest.  The words from the gospel also supports this contention of  paradoxical opposites as 'the son of man has nowhere to lay his head'.  It is an uncomfortable feeling this being at home and yet not being home which for us Christians is a tension that we must encompass if we are true followers of Christ.  A tension that is always found in those who have journeyed in faith and look to Christ for their future. Christ calls us out, makes us uncomfortable, creates space for an-other, fills our lives with uncertainty, asks us to bring others to God.

Spencer's rendition of Christ speaks to us in this moment and as we move forward on our life's journey.  We cannot rest at ease within the comfort of our homes, yet we must rest at ease within the comfort of the world in which we live.  The rest of Luke's passage demonstrates Christ's insistence on this articulation.  Each person who raises a question with regards their personal life's journey at that point in time is given the same answer.  The traditions of the past in which we have made our homes must be laid aside as we look to the future of following Christ.  Unless we have overcome our fears that bind us to our homely comforts and rest at home in Christ we will never achieve the coming of the reign of God in this place.  That does not mean that we do not learn from the past, as Anglicans this is one of the pillars of our journey,  It means we do not cling, like Linus, to our security blanket 'tradition' but embrace the life that Christ offers to us. For us to do that we must be radical, so radical that we love our neighbour as ourselves, which means gladly leaving our comforts behind us whilst finding our new places in the world.  It is in dis-ease we should come to Christ and open ourselves to his healing balm.

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