24 October 2022
As the Anglican Church is seen to quarrel over issues of diversity, please think of the messages children around us may be picking up. As adults heave theological 2×4 planks at one another, it may not be obvious to all, but some children in our vicinity may have a LBGTIQ+ aunt or uncle they would like to invite to their confirmation, or a friend at school, or numerous other personal relationships in their lives, besides their own thoughts, as they absorb the arguments. Children need to feel safe, respected and welcome in all our church spaces, at children’s ministries and youth groups, as acknowledged in our church policies.
When we talk about diversity, let us remember past conversations that families with children with special needs also need to feel welcome. The number of young families that give up coming to church due to their unique struggles has been documented in many countries. It’s time that we look at providing a sensory space or safe withdrawing space in churches, for the safety of children with special needs. It is time we recognised the trauma for young parents dealing with acceptance of diagnosis assessments, the NDIS paper chase, the difficulties of navigating a world that sees their families as diverse, or not fitting the usual societal expectations.
Let’s recognise the many different barriers, the exhaustion, the difficulties for some even to enter a church building and feel safe and valued, and able to worship. Let our awareness of the challenges for families with diversity continue to develop and grow through Jesus’ love.
God’s wants are what matter
As a direct response to the events going on in the Anglican church and the church in general, I want to say what makes me a Christian. I am a Christian because Jesus died for me. Why did he do this? Paul wrote in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”.
I am a wretched creature and am unacceptable to God. It is only through the imputed righteousness of Christ that I am made acceptable (Romans 3:22-24). And yet, even as vile as I am, God loves me: for while we were still sinners and repulsive creatures, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).
What does this mean? It means it is no longer about me, but about Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). I cannot focus on what I want, but on what God wants. My needs do not matter. It may be confronting to realise that I could die naked, freezing, starving, and abandoned by all, and God would still be good and loving and having fulfilled all his promises to me. It is because of this that we are free to love others. We can’t judge, because how can one evil creature say to another evil creature “You are evil”? It would mean nothing. We love others as God loves us and remember that our wants are not important. God’s wants are.
September’s Melbourne Anglican incorrectly named Margaret Kennon as benefactor of Kennon Hall at All Saints’ Kooyong. The hall was gifted to the church by Elizabeth Kennon.