“The Healing Power of Love” (Part 6) – “Deliver Us From Evil” by the Revd Andrew Woodward
In my role as the Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the LGBTI+ communities in the Diocese of Chichester, part of my role is to build relationships of trust with those who identify as LGBTI+ both inside and outside of our churches.
Hearing these stories with dignity and respect and sharing my own journey with vulnerability enables people to express something of who they truly are, created and loved by God without the need to fear and to hide.
Coming out from the shadows of pretence and coming to terms with one’s own sexuality and identity is a huge first step.
Often the fear of the next step, of sharing this with others can paralyse one’s very existence and rob us of what it is to be truly human. It is still daunting for many, especially when one doesn’t know whether there will be acceptance or rejection.
The Pastoral Advisory Group in the Church of England has just produced six principles for living well together. They write:
“The quality of our relationships they write can be hindered by six pervading evils which have the capacity to kill and destroy – Prejudice, Silence, Ignorance, Fear, Hypocrisy and power.”
I commend their work to be used in small groups, PCCs and Diocesan groups up and down the country. Conversations are happening and stories are being shared from which experience can enlighten our theological understanding and analysis, whilst still respecting that threefold cord of scripture, reason and tradition.
Being real with one another and having good and positive LGBTI+ role models in the church will ensure that we grow in grace and in our life together, even with those with whom we may disagree.
Jesus Christ shows us the way to life, to come out of the darkness where the thief comes only to steal and destroy and to enter instead God’s marvellous light made present to us in Jesus Christ.
This is not just about survival or even religion but rather about bringing our whole created being to life in Christ, breaking the bonds that entrap us to these six evils and freeing us to be the people that God has created us to be in all our glorious diversity.
Teach us Good Lord not to fear the one that comes to steal and destroy and to hide away our true selves. Rather in our generous loving of ourselves and of one another, may we come to know your life in us, life in abundance.