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Living with Difference

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 21 July 2013

At the Parish Weekend we studied Genesis 28.10-17, sometimes called “Jacob’s dream”.

This passage influenced Dick Sheppard in his vision for this Church as home for all people in Christ, and inspired our visionary East Window – there is a new creation, containing ladder, light and cross.

Yet, when we re-imagined the passage in meditation some were inspired to be led home by God, while others remembered how these same words have been used to ignite flames of hatred  between diverse peoples laying claim to the very same “land”.

How do we hold these things together?  How do we build a new world where belief does not become religious bigotry and lead to oppression, murder and war?  The ways forward are not simple but recently I have been given two glimpses.

One was at the General Synod in York two weeks ago.  For a day we worked in small groups led by facilitators experienced in conflict resolution as we discussed the impact upon ourselves of creating protections for those members of the Church of England whose conscience will not permit them to welcome the ministry of female Bishops.  By decision making time on Monday something important had changed and the least “legislation heavy” option was passed to explore further.  Another was at the weekend when Neil MacGregor spoke about the architecture of our church.  When it was built a new king was on the throne whose task was to unite the kingdoms of England, Hanover, Scotland and Ireland.  The architecture of St Martin’s combines a Roman façade with a northern spire!  We are a church built for reconciliation, for hearing the truth of the other, for holding difference in tension, and not for tearing apart that diverse, precious, human flesh in which we would see Jesus.

Revd Clare Herbert