>Diversity Training 2

>Lost in thought this morning – with many matters.
Is this what diversity training looks like? This dance group won a British TV talent competition.

Diversifying is God’s business.

Through Abraham and the cross God provides us with a family tree which renders all brothers and sisters. Hear this (as Abraham and Sarah did) – from Genesis 17 – “I will make nations of you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations …”

God’s business is diversifying – as Paul recognised: “Now faith has come … there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for you are all one …” (Galatians 3:28)

Diversifying is the church’s business. Hear Jesus: “If you greet only your brothers and sisters what more are you doing than others?” (Matthew 5:47)

Restrictions and deprivations make up our history. Analyse the media and it soon becomes apparent that only a small section of society has any say. The voices of so many are not heard. Listening therefore becomes the essential requirement of diversity training. This was the strategy the Church of England try to deploy in our debates about homosexuality in the 90’s. We’re not sure how much listening happened – but the intention was that the gay voice was one which the Christian Church had tried to smother. If someone isn’t allowed to speak – how can they be understood? But how can you listen if you are not pre-disposed to love or care enough to listen to the muffled cries of those fighting for breathing space?

I am reading a book by Natalie Watson called “Introducing Feminist Ecclesiology“. Feminist theologians highlight deprivation and challenge practices which are exclusive. Natalie (why do we use surnames when referring to authors?) quotes Nelle Morton who draws attention to the way that women have heard from one another. “New words and the new way old words came to expression” became a liberating force for the women who have heard from one another. “women came to new speech simply because they were being heard. Hearing became an act of receiving the women as well as the words.”

Diversity training requires us to listen – to listen to those who feel excluded in church and from church, in society and from society. It requires us to realise that they are unable to raise their voices – and if we don’t listen we won’t hear them. It requires us to realise that only the rich and powerful make their voices heard when empires are being built.

Our liturgy (aka our “work) begins with the invitation “lift up your voice” – are we looking forward to a time when all people will be able to lift up their voice (with the confidence that their voice will be heard?

Thank you Tracy for the photo of the Jesus Tree.