When the Church of England decided to ordain women as priests in the 1990s arrangements were put in place for those who could not support the move. These arrangements were set out in Appendix B to Ordination of Women to the Priesthood: Pastoral Arrangements and provide sacramental care as well as oversight for opponents of the ordination of women to the priesthood. Basically, provision is made in each diocese for a Provincial Episcopal Visitor, sometimes known as a ‘flying bishop’, who offers oversight to those who cannot accept the ministry of the diocesan bishop because of his acceptance of and participation in the ordination of women. It was these clergy who I saw going to the cathedral on Monday for their alternative Chrism service in Holy Week.
I thought back to another view through a window during Advent 2008. I was looking through the window of the small Franciscan church called Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives. The church is constructed in the shape of a tear and the view looks out over Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem. This is traditionally remembered as the site where Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41).
So there you have it: Holy Week, when we remember what God has done for all of us through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ and we have two separate services because we can’t agree on what Jesus calls us to be and do in his name. We can’t even share together around the Lord’s table.
Jesus wept and we should hang our heads in shame.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-22