Today’s reflection is very hard to write, it is based on my own poor behaviour and I don’t have to reveal that but I will to show how impassioned I am that you hear my words today not as a study but as relatable to real life.
I’ve been dwelling on Mark 9:38-50, especially verse 42, about placing yourself as a stumbling block. This is my where my bad behaviour comes in. I am very passionate about all things children and Intergenerational, I look Biblically through the lens of Child Theology, and I could write on whether the reference to Little one’s relates to physical children or not.
I could write about protecting children, but what I have been thinking about is how I put “stumbling blocks” to people, adults grown in faith when I am trying to convince them of the worthiness of looking at faith, or worship with the child in mind, or when I am trying to convince them that becoming Intergenerational might be a better form of practice. In these areas, these adults are like “little children” still learning, but I want to move them on, hurry them up to where I am in my thinking.
Cory Seibel at the Intergenerate Conference earlier this year identified that there is always someone at the head of the curve for Institutional Change. Personal experience has shown me that this is a lonely space, and for someone who craves to be accepted and feel normal, this is the most uncomfortable place in the world. It is also the place where abuse can happen when others try to quieten your ideas and pull you back in line to maintain the status que. But it is also a place where I can wield damage as I push my ideas through. If I am feeling under attack I bring my worse me, in my case the defensive, attacking demeaning me. As a leader in the church I wield power and I am not using it well, I am creating stumbling blocks that are making it harder for people, good reasonable people to hear my views, and undermining my own goodness, as well as the message I want to share. As also mentioned in this passage from Mark I need cauterizing. Not all of me, it does feel much easier to be pulling out and wiping the dust from my feet as another passage of scripture encourages us to do if God’s word is not being heard, than to remove the bit of me that is getting in the way. In my case this would be the idea that I am feeling persecuted, the idea that I’m different, the idea that what I say is more important. It is these bits I need to “cut-off” to bring the jewel (another reference from Seibel) of what I am trying to share that is so important to me, instead of the toxic hurt, fear, abandonment issues that keep surfacing and which I protect with bad behaviour which causes people to stumble, and turn away from what I want to say.
How can I rid myself of these damaging insecurities that harm others? I need look no further than the other passages in today’s RCL readings. Queen Esther’s example of praying when she was frightened, and James’s reminder of the reliance on prayer, supply me with two healthy examples of the use of prayer. Reminding people to include Children and be Intergenerationally minded is important to me, but so is being the best person God wants me to be, and prayer is the lifeline I need to keep using. I just wish I could remember to do as I say, and take my big concerns first to the Lord and not, to my insecurities. I would prefer people to hear what I feel God is asking me to say rather than to make others and myself stumble.
I am writing this on Wurundjeri land and wish to pay respect to all Elders, past, present and emerging.