On Sunday the church celebrated Pentecost the coming of the Holy Spirit, I am sure in pulpits round the world there was talk of the chaos she brings along with her, the way she blows where she wills mucking about with things, messing things up. Disturbing the ways of mortals so that the Immortal One can make people look anew, afresh, without structures that can confound and confuse us into thinking we already know it all and have all the answers, that because God is unchanging we should be too.
Church is a messy old business, congregations are full of people who do not necessarily agree on every doctrinal crossed ‘t’ and dotted ‘i’. There would appear to be just about as many branches of theology as there are books in the Bible. Many have always lived and breathed and brought life to the very structures and institutions which they do not fully agree with. Our faith is in God not in a church or even the Church. As I said yesterday with Hiliary of Potiers help, our expressions of our faith are at the perils of our human expression. We can not express God in word or image or doctrine, but we try to, we feel compelled to, and we fail in the trying because God can not be put in a box for a box always has things outside of it. Ergo we can not confine our understanding of God to mere theology and doctrines – as in only the rational and principals – although we will try and we should try, but we must not and should not make those things our idols.
Yesterday, my sisters and brothers in the Church of Scotland, wrestled like Jacob with the angels, they were never going to get it right, never going to come to an agreement, yet they were compelled to try. They wrestled with a doctrine they want to hold on to because it contains the essence of something they can’t quite define. They wrestled with cries for justice that doctrine denies. They wrestled with the hurt and pain and equally wrestled with tradition and fear, and they have come out of it with a limp and a hip out of joint. It is messy and what will follow will no doubt also be messy, but at least they wrestled. At least they allowed the stirring of the pool to begin so that there is a chance of going down into the waters and coming out healed.
The Church of Scotland had brave stout hearts yesterday for they have agreed to live in the mess of the Holy Spirit doing her work, some don’t like it, me I love it for now there is a real chance for healing and as Mel would say ‘Freedom.’ Now the question is will the other churches do likewise, will they choose to wrestle, will they allow the mess, or will they try and keep the Holy Spirit under control?