Emerging Church – March Recap

Emerging Church – March Recap

At Emerging Church on Sunday,17 March, Tony and Zoe elected to tackle the question of how to love your enemies as part of our overall theme of Love God, Love your Neighbour.

They said that for most people, including themselves, loving your enemy was extremely hard to do. In fact, it requires a change of mind.

Tony set the scene by showing a trailer of the BBC series Earth, alerting us to the fact that mankind had been around for only 250,000 years of the 4.5 billion years of the world’s existence and needed to rid itself of the never-ending hostility that has plagued it from the time of the mythical Adam. “In the scheme of things as measured by a 24-hour clock, Jesus was here for only a few seconds.  As we respond in awe and wonder at the creation of the Earth, and then to Jesus’ birth, we realise that there is time yet for the possibility of an eruption of universal peace if we adopt the injunction that Jesus gave us, that we love our enemies: it could be what saves us, he said.

A poem that related to the subject, written by Jennie Hill was recited and then

 Zoe’s reading from Luke 6:27-35 summed up what Jesus wants us to do: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you … God is good to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.’

Matthew 5:43-48 tells the same story, and this was read by Sue Anderson a little later.

The prime example of Agape love, the Good Samaritan parable was invoked.

Jesus instructed that should we receive a ‘back-hander’ to the right cheek, we should not retaliate but should ‘turn the other cheek’. Tony and Zoe played this out for us, drawing on Walter Wink’s book Jesus and Non-violence – a third way.  Zoe said, “The key to this new approach is toallow yourself to be vulnerable. You will be hurt but will not lose dignity from it as your adversary will suffer more because he will have to treat you as an equal after the second blow, this time from an open hand”.

Tony said we all need to remember that we are children of God, even though we treat each other extremely badly at times, such as at present.

From profiles Tony projected of well-known world leaders and dignitaries who could be thought of as enemies, our task was to think of some redeeming feature or features they might possess, so that this could provide us with a basis upon which to begin to love them.

Zoe said it was then necessary to regard errant people as being humans like us and  members of God’s family, prone to the same sort of indiscretions, foolishness, and downright bad behaviour that we ourselves are prone to.

Having done this, it was incumbent upon us to determine our view of anyone whom we consider our enemy: … do I seek revenge, or am I able to turn this around and say I will not seek revenge, but I will seek justice? This will take you a long way towards modifying your antagonism towards the offender and may be the start of better blood surfacing in your mutual dealings, she said.

Zoe said, another manoeuvre is to ask yourself, of whom am I the enemy?  To reinforce the salutary influence of this introspection, she invited us to join in a communal prayer based on Psalm 51:1-10, which itemises the failing of the compiler and seeks God’s forgiveness for his indiscretions. Zoe said that the key to this also is to bevulnerable. “Embracing your enemy as you would if that person were your friend, is a personal challenge that helps us to grow,” said Zoe, “and love is the is the only force capable of doing this.”

An early Christian disciple, in a letter to the Greek Diognetus, wrote of how much the Christians showed love and were known for their love. The question was asked, “Are Christians known today for their love?”

We gathered into small discussion groups to voice our personal struggles to embrace the theme. One group posited the idea that to change, one needed first to have been in an abusive situation, which applied to almost everyone, so change was possible.   

An early song was Love for enemies, with words by Paul Demer.

Our closing song was Loving is the answer by George Stuart.

Twenty-two people joined in the shared supper that followed. Peter