September is a little different as writer, Sarah Alice Allcroft, reflects on the passage of Mark 9:38-50.
Jesus and John are discussing the issues of what we would now call denominational squabbles and what the standards by which they should be held by outlining points of accountability.
John tells Jesus that they tried to stop a group of people from casting out demons in His name, and Jesus says that this is perfectly fine by him.; if people are doing good things in the name of Jesus, then that’s a net win. When good things are done, then the Christian message goes wider.
As far as accountability, Jesus tells John that if his hand causes him to stumble then he is to cut it off; and then continues to outline other examples of how it’s better to be without a limb than to retain both and cause harm to the wider community due to vanity.
It’s easy to look at pieces in this passage from a predominantly white, largely straight, almost completely cisgendered perspective and take away from it things like Christians demonising the LGBT community. Or blaming the poor or sick for their circumstances because they don’t have enough faith in God, and overlooking at what’s happening in Israel and Palestine.
Even from this perspective, as easy as it is, we’d need to do some serious re-thinking about whether or not this is placing a stumbling block in front of people, or creating an unnecessary chasm for people to overcome.
Sometimes the silence is obscene, or worse when speaking up is met with comments like “we shouldn’t be calling out our brothers and sisters.” At what point does accommodating a “broad church” become platforming hate?
It’s hard to imagine an honest adherence to the gospels that sees Christians supporting the removal of transgender healthcare from a group that already experiences a rate of attempted suicide around 40 percent. So many of my trans peers don’t make it because of how hard it is to live their lives faithful to who they are, to how God made them…
It’s time all of us started stepping up, to put into action what we read in authors like Dave Andrews and Ched Myers, to say we need more than just words in a sermon or reflection to remind us to be better.
Music Reference: Tool ‘Descending’ / Anberlin ‘Hearing Voices’
Sarah Alice Allcroft is a Lay Preacher