Years ago, in a diocese far, far away, a colleague surprised me one day by saying how much he disliked the reading of the Passion Gospel on Palm Sunday, particularly when members of the congregation were assigned the various dramatic parts (in precisely the way that over the past forty years or so has become fairly common in churches of all sorts). What he found objectionable was the role assigned to the congregation, the part of the crowd, calling out “Crucify him, crucify him!” in the midst of the solemn liturgy of the day. He was scandalized by the suggestion that his congregation, good Christian people, might be identified with Jesus’ killers.
Just telling this story reminds me of the joys of theological conversation at a certain age, of the thrust and parry over great ideas that can take place in an informal setting. My sense is that theology is often best done in such a setting. I have the sense that much of this give and take happens on social media these days, but that’s another story.
At first I believed my friend was just kidding, or perhaps being provocative, and maybe that was the case. I certainly hope so. At the time I was dumbstruck.