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A new family?

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. Acts 4.32

My eye was caught by a remark in Olivia Jackson's book (un)certain, that gay Christians who are rejected by their churches and are fortunate enough to find fellowship with others describe their new community of faith as evoking the Early Church. Is it the idealism, the sense of adventure, or the relief at being among like-minded people? Perhaps it is all of these and more. The irony, of course, is that traditional churches also aspire to recapture the "magic" of our pioneering predecessors but without any notion of its being a haven for those who have "come out". Is this a problem? Who is right? Is there room for compromise, mutual recognition, reconciliation even?

We are living through a maelstrom of social reconstruction. That it is happening in the context of arguably more urgent crises - namely climate change, biodiversity erosion, war and mass migration - might have overshadowed the issue but it does not seem to have. That may be because, in an era of mass media, there is no limit to the space for dialogue. People can continue to promote the issues they care about, regardless of the competition for others' attention, not to mention their/ our sympathy.

Is there a faithful perspective on all of this? Looking to Jesus, it would seem that there is. However preoccupied the Lord might have been expected to be - at various stages in his public ministry - Jesus always seems to have have time tor people and that meant having the emotional bandwidth to address whatever was concerning them, regardless of how those concerns accorded with his own, or other people's, priorities. Without abandoning our convictions, or leaping to conclusions, today's Church can also develop an ear for what people are concerned about, especially those on the margins, whatever puts them/ us in that predicament.

Navigating difficult moral convictions is never going to be easy. But, if we are going to pray for anything, let it be that we have the energy to follow Jesus, who had time for everybody. Though he was hard as nails himself, in his behaviour towards others he could be gentle as well as robust, depending on the circumstances. His robust behaviour was directed towards those who needed confronting. His gentleness was for those who needed compassion.



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