The world is fallen. Whose job is it to pick it up?

A year or two ago, my inbox was bombarded with messages about “protecting the sanctity of marriage”. In church meetings clipboards were passed around to collect signatures for a petition. The Church in South Africa was preoccupied with protecting a definition. And I wondered then what people outside the Church thought of us.

“Oh, that’s just the fear of man talking”, says my inner tv evangelist. “We shouldn’t care about what people think about the Church”.

True. But it’s not really the Church’s ‘image’ I’m worried about. It’s the Church’s mission. Are we meant to be a bunch of nimby’s? Let me explain with this poem by Chris Addison:

Gerald Quimby, Who Protested Everything

Have you heard of Gerald Quimby?
Quite the most appalling NIMBY,
PhD in demonstrating,
Cavilling and remonstrating.
In re: any proposition
Gerald was in opposition;
Staring at you long and hard
He’d bellow, ‘Not in my backyard!’

Gerry’s shed was full of banners,
Placards, paints and twelve-month planners
(Blank, so when the breakfast news
Reported things which in his view
Could not be borne, a morning’s work
Amidst the grow-bags and the murk
And he, by lunch, could from thin air
Stage demos in the village square).

Before too long, where once had been
A village round a charming green,
Stood nothing but a silly man,
Stacking placards in a van;
No shops, no phones, no food, no roads,
No nothing but his own abode.
Cut off, alone and ill-supplied,
To no one’s great surprise, he died.

Thus the fate of Gerald Quimby;
Here’s the moral: Be a NIMBY
If you like, but all you’ll save
Your backyard just to be your grave.

The question is not whether the traditional definition of marriage is good, or whether Harry Potter is bad, or whatever our current Church bugbear is. The question is whether or not that’s the point. I’m pretty sure the good news that Jesus taught and lived and died for had more to do with love and salvation than hate and sanction.

If, when the Church is mentioned outside our (un)holy huddle, people say,”Oh, you mean those homophobic, Harry Potter haters” (and I believe that sadly this is often the case), one can hardly help but see the Lord in your mind’s-eye, enthroned in majesty, with His head in His hands and tears in His eyes.

And no, I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic.

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