While visiting Canterbury Cathedral earlier in the week I was interested to see that the crypt is an area in which taking photos is prohibited. I think this is so it is set aside for people to pray and reflect without being disturbed by flash photography. It interested me because it reminded me of a phrase that is used in courts in the UK when the public is not allowed access to a hearing. The court is said to be sitting ‘in camera’. It means ‘in private’ and comes from Latin which literally means ‘in chambers’.
That has always intrigued me because if something is ‘on camera’ it is very obviously in the public view whereas ‘in camera’ means exactly the opposite! It got me pondering (as these things do) about when we say one thing and mean another. I remembered a sad moment when I was studying for my law degree. The lecturer was speaking about the meaning of words and how intonation makes a big difference. He asked for examples and with real emotion and feeling one of the girls on the course said, “Yes, of course I love you.”
Is that how some people see Christians? For example, do they hear us saying that everyone is welcome and then read about how some are excluded from being leaders by virtue of their gender? There are lots of other examples we could cite.
It seems to me that we have a choice.
When you look at Jesus he was inclusive, welcoming, and went out of his way to be with those on the margins. He drew people to him without demanding that they sort themselves out first or labelling them: justifying his approach by saying that “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”. I find that reassuring for my own life, because I am still very much a ‘work in progress’. Jesus saved his harshest words for the religious people (often summarised in the gospels as ‘Pharisees and Teachers of the Law’) who had a legalistic approach to life and were happy to categorise people as ‘unclean’ and exclude them from their religious life and experience. Read Matthew chapter 23 if you aren’t sure about this!
So the choice is whether we follow Jesus’ inclusive example or the legalistic example of the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. If we choose the latter I suggest that we carry out all our activities in camera and hope that Jesus doesn’t ask to come in.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
Joke repeated from a couple of years ago:
A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. “In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”
A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”