I began the day with a cross on my forehead. I am part of a group who mourn the dismissal of my colleague Ecclesia de Lange from my church denomination. This was because she entered into a lesbian marriage. So we prayed with her this morning, and used an ash cross as a sign of mourning – because she was dismissed on Ash Wednesday 2010.
I left this gay-friendly group to go and care for my gay-antagonistic congregation. Here I visited six homes of shut-in elderly people, where I prayed with them, and offered them encouragement. I am humbled by their fortitude and ability to find humour in what are very difficult circumstances of frailty and ill-health.
This was followed by a funeral of a granny who is not connected to any of my churches. I got to know her through a monthly service that I lead in one of the homes for the aged in my area. Her grandson told us how she used to care for the grandchildren while their parents were away on business – and how the grandchildren as teenagers would have raucous parties supervised by granny, who would then clean up and swear everyone to secrecy!
In the afternoon I attended an administration meeting where we discussed selling a church residence and buying another. This is part of completing the red-tape necessary to put in place an upgrading of accommodation for a colleague.
And in the evening I led a home fellowship meeting, where we reflected on a parable told by Jesus in Luke Chapter 12 vs 45-48. This is a story about a housekeeper who acts as if the Master of the home is no longer in charge, and assumes power in deeply abusive ways. We agreed that this can speak about Church leaders who live as if Jesus were no longer with us, and so leadership is exercised in ways that are abusive and damaging to the servants in the home.
This brings me back to my colleague of this morning. Ecclesia has been victimised by the stewards of the household of God, who have acted as if they are Jesus. But I do not believe that the service-ethic of Jesus would have acted in such high-handed and un-pastoral ways.
And it was for this reason that I prayed with her this morning.