In a sermon delivered by Desmond Tutu in the Chapel of King's College, London (Sunday 22 February 2004), he said, “When Jesus spoke of being lifted up on the cross he said ‘I, if I be lifted up will draw..’ - he didn't say ‘I will draw some’-- he said ‘I, if I be lifted up will draw ALL - draw all to me to hold them’, all of us drawn into the divine embrace that excludes no-one - black, yellow, white, rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female, young, old, gay, lesbian, so-called straight - yes it IS radical. All, all, ALL belong…”.
With Easter now in sight, the remembrance of Jesus being lifted up is a very present one. Of course, there can be no resurrection without crucifixion, and it is in the crucifixion that Jesus, lifted up, drew all people to himself. There can be no more ‘inclusive’ declaration than this. Desmond Tutu’s words remind us of how radical this declaration was, and it was made in anticipation of the pain and suffering Jesus was preparing to undergo.
The radical challenge of these words of Jesus is present for us today. Our task is to look for the fulfilment of these words of Jesus- where are the signs that all people are really being included in that divine embrace that excludes no one?
The Trustees of Inclusive Church rejoice at each of our meetings when we receive yet another list of churches which have indicated the desire to be an ‘inclusive church’, we rejoice in the e-mails and posts from individuals who have been encouraged in their discipleship, Bob is rushed off his feet supporting events organised by our Ambassadors around the country, and we have met so many brilliant people at General Synod and Greenbelt in the past year. You'll read elsewhere of our thanks to all who have supported our work financially and thank you too for your prayer support and for spreading the word.
There is no resurrection, or new life, without crucifixion and many have found their way to Inclusive Church through experiences of ‘crucifixion’ – exclusion from church or Christian fellowship. Together we celebrate the new life which is found when people are together, truly trying to live in the divine embrace with all the wonderful difference there is within the human family.
As Lent gives way to Easter may we continue to give thanks for the resurrection which follows crucifixion and to work to change unjust structures, to address and transform fear and prejudice and to celebrate all that contributes to all people being drawn into the love of God.
Dianna Gwilliams. Dean of Guildford Cathedral and Chair of Inclusive Church