Monday, December 26, 2011

God is not far from the Occupy protesters

The Archbishop of Wales says St Paul's Cathedral got it wrong in its initial response to the Occupy protesters camped outside its front door.

The Church took a hard line when tents started springing up in the churchyard in October but later changed its tone when it came under fierce criticism for its stance.

In his Christmas Day sermon, Dr Barry Morgan said that the initial reaction of the cathedral officials to take legal action against the protesters gave the “unfortunate impression that what was happening inside the cathedral had very little to do with what was happening outside it”.

“People could have drawn the conclusion from that, that the worship of God has no connection with the world or its concerns because God is literally and metaphorically above it."

The Archbishop said that God does not need to be protected or guarded, and that rejecting the protesters would make the church no different from the religious leaders of Jesus’ time, who tried to separate God and worship from anything deemed “unworthy”.

“But it is precisely this view of God’s holiness that Jesus shattered. He spent most of his ministry out of doors, not in synagogues or temples but preaching to ordinary people, attempting to relate ordinary everyday events to God." .

The Archbishop noted the way in which Jesus “replaced the core value of purity with compassion” because he “regarded compassion not holiness as God’s dominant quality”.

“He criticised the system that emphasised purity and neglected justice. So Jesus touched lepers and haemorrhaging women and mixed with poor people and outcasts. Whereas purity divided and excluded, compassion united and included.”

The Archbishop said that God has broken down the barriers erected by man and shown us that He is involved in every aspect of life.

He stated that Jesus’ prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven does not only mean changing individual lives, but also structures of society and the world, and “overturning poverty, injustice and oppression”.
“Paradoxically, it is the Occupy Movement which has reminded us that in Jesus, the view of God as a holy set-apart God, has been shattered forever, in the birth in a cowshed and death on a cross.”