Sunday, 8 April 2012

An Easter Sunday Sermon

 When Partner-who-loves-tea and I met we were pleased to know that we agreed on the subject of religion. Our view, put simply, was that we were not church-going, we adhered to no particular branch of the Church, we did believe in some Higher Being of some sort, but that our main reason for calling ourselves ‘Christians’ was that we adhered to what we considered to be Christian principles. I know some people reading this will consider worship and church-attendance as inherent parts of those principles but many of those principles I am referring to are to be found in just about every other religion in the world.

Amongst those principles are to be a person of excellence and to do your best quality work at all times; to obey those Biblical commandments which are key to being a humane person such as not killing, stealing, or coveting your neighbour’s property; but most important of all to love your neighbour as yourself by being there when help is needed.

Inherent in loving your neighbour is the idea that nowhere does it say your white neighbour, or your female neighbour, or your Church of England neighbour, or your neighbour who is heterosexual, etc. In other words, your neighbour is your neighbour whatever their sex, colour or creed. Since the world is now drawn so close together by the World Wide Web it’s fair to say everyone is one’s neighbour. Most of the people reading this are likely to be many thousands of miles away.

Inherent in those Christian principles, as I see it, must therefore be the freedom to express oneself as having a different coloured skin or a different sex or a different religion. (I appreciate there are clashes here where, for example, a religion forbids a woman to work outside the home; in which case I choose to interpret matters as being that a person is a woman first and member of a religion second and as such she should have equal freedom with men but debating that is not the purpose of this little essay.) No one should have to try to hide their racial origin, their sexuality or the nature of their religion.

Which brings me to the reason I chose to write a ‘sermon’ today.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has called for Christians to wear a cross every day. In his Easter Sunday sermon, Cardinal Keith O'Brien will tell worshippers to "wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ" each day of their lives. His comments come as a case is going to the European Court of Human Rights to allow employees to wear crosses. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI said that Christians "need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles".

Former nurse Shirley Chaplin, from Exeter, and Nadia Eweida, from Twickenham, who worked with British Airways, are taking their call for all employees to be able to wear a cross at work to the European Court of Human Rights. Both women were told in 2010 by their respective employers that they should not wear crosses at work.

On a chain around my neck I have a cross that Mum wore. I have worn it on and off for a while now, as much as a link with Mum as for any other reason. It could just as easily have been an ankh. Much as a I wear a wedding ring to show my link to Partner-who-loves-tea.

But as a mark of my support for the right to wear a cross I shall be wearing it continuously now until the case of Shirley Chaplin and Nadia Eweida has been heard and, hopefully, won.


  1. My belief is right there with you, Scriptor. Love each other as I have loved you. And I have yet to read in the Bible where it says you have to go to church.

  2. An interesting read, thank you. I can't recall having heard the wearing of a cross being officially debated here but it's not unlikely. (Actually I think health care staff here are not supposed to wear any jewelry at all at work for safety and hygienic reasons.) The irony is that while official opinions are getting more "allowing" towards non-Christian religious practices (like the wearing of veils and turbans for example), the trend seems to be exactly the opposite when it comes to anything related to the Christian church. So I think those two women taking this to the European Court of Human Rights is very interesting.

  3. You know me, well enough and could, most likely, guess that I feel much of the same. Church is not where I feel you need to be to know God, to relate to Him or to 'only' love your neighbor. There are many 'religions' to call themselves Christians and even inside a really well meaning 'branch' - who still aren't positively loving their neighbors {which truly sickens me}. To see some stand with pickets and ill meaning declarations of the Bible really makes my hair stand up - for whatever their reasoning is. I have a friend, whom I truly love for who he is, that is gay and he struggles. It bothers me that people who confess that they love God, would treat him in contempt and judge as they do. I would wish not to be categorized in their party, what-so-ever - nor, would I have wanted to be included within those religious leaders who crucified Christ {although, without them we would not have found the freedom, the ability to hold His Spirit, the forgiveness and all that we were able to know through His Death and Ressurection}.

    so...blah---blah---blah and all that, right ;)

    Good points made and I agree {long story short} :)

  4. I always think that the Church is more than a set of beliefs. I am always grateful for the people in villages who work so hard with fetes and jumble sales to save their church for future generations. In the history of the church, opposition is not new. NOn violent protest is good.

  5. Beautifully put, Scriptor. As a matter of fact, I looked up the Golden Rule just the other day (Mark 12:31) and you're right -- there is no asterisk to say "except gay, lesbian, or other minority."

    I have no objection to anyone's wearing a cross. Personally, I prefer not to, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't, or that I don't believe in them. I'm not entirely sure why I don't wear one -- I have several, including one lovely green enamel one I got at the Shrine of St. John the Baptist at the Cathedral of Amiens, in northern France.

    I guess I feel my religious choices are private. Or perhaps it's because in the USA these days, so many who do wear crosses are some of the most intolerant people you'll ever meet, and I prefer not to be linked with them. Or at least such as been my experience!

  6. You are right in your thinking, Scriptor. It should be about the principles, not the dogma, hierarchies or the buildings. And it's hard to believe organizations are still trying to dictate what people should wear in this day and age, isn't it?
    "...maybe love is letting people be just what they want to be, the door always must be left unlocked" ~ Howard Jones

  7. Yes I agree because everyone seems to have 'rights' except Christians these days.

  8. Just my two pen'orth but Shirley Chaplin was asked not to wear her cross due to Health and Safety reasons not religous.As a nurse in this continually more violent world - an antisocial or violent patient could in fact grab the chain and hurt her. If she felt so strongly about wearing the cross , common sense could have told her to pin it to her uniform (I used to have my wedding ring on the pin of my fob watch)

  9. Pastor's wife here. I believe Jesus did not want to be worshiped; that he would have been appalled at the idea of churches built with money that could have fed the poor. And although I do attend church and sing in a rockin' praise band, I don't feel I am more "worthy" than someone who chooses not to. I need that sense of community, and we are United Church of Christ, sprung from the rowdy Congregationalists, so we are practically Universalists with Jesus thrown in as the guide.

    It's about the journey. If you live it in love; if you refuse to type people because of appearance; if you love ALL your neighbors, as John says, not just the ones of your choice, then I say GOOD ON YOU! I love everybody. Amen. Amy Barlow Liberatore, USA


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