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Imagining the Lectionary: Binding and releasing
(Proper 18A/Ordinary 23A)

Reflection accompanying images “Unlocking the heart” and “Hinge between light and dark

This impressive and imposing charm bracelet padlock at the bottom of Newhall Hill in Birmingham marks the start of the Charm Bracelet Trail through the former Jewellery Quarter of the city. As a visual starting point for an exploration of the impressive and imposing teaching of Jesus concerning 'binding and releasing' it could not be bettered. On this inner city pavement we have a bold statement of what for Jesus is the very heart of the matter for his followers.  Here and now in art and then in words and actions the essence of gospel is unlocked.

I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. (Matthew 18:18)

Now I read this not as an incitement to wield judgmental power over others and still less as a carte blanche from Jesus to exult in the status of divine proxies. Such an interpretation is immiscible with grace. Taken in context Jesus' words relate to the unending task we have in the church of putting relationships back together again and of freeing faith communities from the fraught inter personal dynamics which blight them. Starting with grace as our given, Jesus takes truth, honesty and integrity to the relationships amongst his followers and bids us name what we find and deal with all that mars our togetherness. Its a big ask.


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