In a sermon delivered by Desmond Tutu in the Chapel of King’s College, London (Sunday 22 February 2004), he said, “When Jesus spoke of being lifted up on the cross he said ‘I, if I be lifted up will draw..’ – he didn’t say ‘I will draw some’– he said ‘I, if I be lifted up will draw ALL – draw all to me to hold them’, all of us drawn into the divine embrace that excludes no-one – black, yellow, white, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female, young, old, gay, lesbian, so-called straight – yes it IS radical. All, all, ALL belong…”.
With Easter now in sight, the remembrance of Jesus being lifted up is a very present one. Of course, there can be no resurrection without crucifixion, and it is in the crucifixion that Jesus, lifted up, drew all people to himself. There can be no more ‘inclusive’ declaration than this. Desmond Tutu’s words remind us of how radical this declaration was, and it was made in anticipation of the pain and suffering Jesus was preparing to undergo.
The radical challenge of these words of Jesus is present for us today. Our task is to look for the fulfilment of these words of Jesus- where are the signs that all people are really being included in that divine embrace that excludes no one?
The Trustees of Inclusive Church rejoice at each of our meetings when we receive yet another list of churches which have indicated the desire to be an ‘inclusive church’, we rejoice in the e-mails and posts from individuals who have been encouraged in their discipleship, Bob is rushed off his feet supporting events organised by our Ambassadors around the country, and we have met so many brilliant people at General Synod and Greenbelt in the past year. You’ll read elsewhere of our thanks to all who have supported our work financially and thank you too for your prayer support and for spreading the word.
There is no resurrection, or new life, without crucifixion and many have found their way to Inclusive Church through experiences of ‘crucifixion’ – exclusion from church or Christian fellowship. Together we celebrate the new life which is found when people are together, truly trying to live in the divine embrace with all the wonderful difference there is within the human family.
As Lent gives way to Easter may we continue to give thanks for the resurrection which follows crucifixion and to work to change unjust structures, to address and transform fear and prejudice and to celebrate all that contributes to all people being drawn into the love of God.
Dianna Gwilliams. Dean of Guildford Cathedral, Chair of Inclusive Church.
On Holy Thursday, when the Church Universal celebrates the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood – given and shed for all – and the occasion when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, it behoves us all to remember that Christ died for ALL people made in the divine Image and Likeness, regardless.
As this article from ‘Inclusive Church’ (UK) reminds us, through the words of ++Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa; Jesus drew ALL THE WORLD to Himself on the Cross – not just the great and the good, but ALL who would come to Him for the free gift of eternal life. The cost of that gift – to Almighty God – was the self-offering of God’s Blessed Son, Jesus Christ; whose dedication to God’s plan of salvation for the whole world was so ingrained and deep within Jesus, that, defying the insularity of the religious leaders of his day, he meekly accepted his own death at their hands, in order to dcemonstrate the reality of perfect love, the love that surpasses all our human understanding.
“Therefore we, before him bending, this great sacrament revere. Types and shadows have their ending, for the newer rite is here. Faith, our outward sense befriending, makes the inward vision clear.
“Glory let us give and blessing, to the Father and the Son; honour, might and praise addressing, while eternal ages run. Ever, too, his love confessing, Who, from both, with both is one. Amen” (English Hymnal 268)
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand