Just like the disciples at the Ascension, we are caught between heaven and earth.

My friend Marion has written about betrayal. It happens in families, it happens in politics, both local and geo-, and (yes it does!) it happens in the church. I am reluctant to post specific examples. Does that make me chicken? Maybe it does, but so be it. I don’t want to hurt people unnecessarily. (OK — so is there such a thing as a necessary hurt?)

My life in the church has created wounds in myself and in the Body of Christ. I am responsible for some of those wounds. Others must take the blame for other hurts.

What is clear to me is that the church has a huge potential for hurting people. Not because it is dedicated to doing so, but precisely because of the opposite: the church is dedicated to preaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of God, the kingdom in which all are reconciled, all are healed, all are brought into God’s peace.

But that’s the problem: it is incredibly difficult to live what we preach, and the expectations raised by our preaching put the Body of Christ on a pedestal. The only thing one can do on a pedestal (except to vegetate like Simeon Stylites) is to fall off.  Instead of living on a pillar, we need to live in the world, rejoicing in all that God has given us. Diana Butler Bass cited Hildegard of Bingen thus:  “The truly holy person welcomes all that is earthly.”

The church is a reflection both of the world and of the kingdom. If at times we feel betrayed, it is only because we are caught in the gulf between the two. My life in ordained ministry in the past 26 years has mirrored this.

Stay tuned…

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Retired priest of the Anglican Church of Canada, living in Edmonton AB, and serving as an Honorary Assistant at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Old Strathcona.

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