Monday, August 8, 2016

The Pivotal Pronoun

To establish whether a person is identified with a particular group, be it a sports club a church or a political party one has only to listen to the personal pronoun he or she uses when referring to the group. It’s a dead giveaway: If its ‘we’, they’re identified, if it’s ‘they,’ then they’re not; ‘us’ they’re on the inside looking out, ‘them’, they’re on the outside looking in.
If we are identified with a group, then we may share in its glory if the group or one of its members does well, but we must also share in the distress of the group if it does badly or its shame if even one of its members behaves disgracefully. This was well understood in medieval times, for if the head of a family had been born out of wedlock, then the crest of the family would include the heraldic device of a Bend Sinister making this fact public and inclusive of the entire family.
It is natural to want to pull apart from a group which is doing badly and this might be what the Lord requires:
However this is not the soul and substance of the incarnation, for assuredly mankind was doing very badly when Jesus ‘made Himself of no reputation’ and was ‘found in fashion as a man.’ (Philippians 2)

Being incarnate in a messy, an ugly or a shameful situation confers on one the prerogative, the motive, and the urgency to speak and act constructively in that situation.

This is why Nehemiah prays “We have sinned” as a prelude to his remarkable role in the restoration of Jerusalem, its walls, its morale and its worship of the one, true God.

This is why we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses.”

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