Thursday, 22 November 2012

Corpse Bride

No, not the brilliant stop-motion animation film by Tim Burton but the words that came to mind as I reflected on the failure of General Synod to pass the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure by the requisite two thirds majority in each house. One of the most striking images of the Church in the New Testament is of the Church as a Bride. At the moment the Church of England seems in the eyes of many to be a Corpse Bride or at least on its death bed and gasping its last breaths.

I am rather dismayed at the speed with which some of my colleagues have rushed to print in the media to pronounce the last rites over the body. I can understand the frustration, anger and hurt that is around, I feel it myself, but many seem to have forgotten that every follower of Christ is part of the Church. It’s not an optional extra for us, it’s part of the deal. Down through the centuries there have been plenty of times when the Church seems to have written its suicide note but somehow, by the grace of God, it has not died. Our challenge is and has always been to work out how we deal with the set backs, screw ups and follies because we are a flawed and damaged crew united by the grace of God and called to work out that unity in the everyday messiness of life.

So when I think about the Corpse Bride I console myself with this truth; The Bridegroom has a habit of bringing that which is dead or dying back to life, so let’s not write the obituary too hastily.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Slogging up to Arras

A couple of weeks ago we sat down as a family and watched the film War Horse, both my children had already read Michael Morpurgo’s book, and then we chatted about the First World War.

I learnt about the horrors of war not in my history lessons but in English. The War Poets captured, in a way no historian could, the horror and waste of life on the front line during  the ‘war to end all wars’. Of course the ‘Great War’ didn’t signal an end to conflict, its outcome doomed Europe to a period of instability which was the seed bed of the Second World War and so many of the tensions and conflict which followed in Europe. On this day, when we remember all those who died as a result of these conflicts, I turn to one of those great writers of the early part of the last century to glimpse again something of what so many went through at such great cost.
‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said 
When we met him last week on our way to the line. 
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead, 
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine. 
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
The General: Siegfried Sassoon
And then a sonnet for this day called Silence by Michael Guite:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fan Dancing and the Archbishop

It would have been more edifying for the new Archbishop of Canterbury’s name to have been revealed by Dita Von Teese fan dancing on the steps of St Paul, than for the complete omnishambles that the Church of England has managed to concoct. For months we have been encouraged to pray for those charged with discerning God’s will on this matter only for the news to have seeped out through leaks to favoured journalists and betting at the bookies. I don’t know who has done this but the whole set up seems to have been devised to make it likely this was the way the news would come out.

Anyway, enough of the rant, here are a few of my thoughts on the new Archbishop.
  1. I didn’t want the last one to go but I wish Rowan and Jane well in the next stage of their journey with God and give thanks for all they have so sacrificially given in serving him and us.
  2. We should give thanks for those who have borne the burden of discerning who should be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.
  3. I hope the new Archbishop will make a priority of finding a new way of appointing his successor so we don’t have to endure this nonsense again.
  4. It doesn’t matter how hard the Church tries to mess up God’s will for our lives, he has a habit of fulfilling his purposes even through our screw ups. That is as true for the people he raises up to positions of leadership as it is for the rest of us.
  5. I really don’t care what accent he has, what school he went to or how much money he has. All I want to know is that the Archbishop is someone with a heart to serve God in the place where he has been called to minister. God looks on the heart not the outward appearance.
  6. The new Archbishop needs, and has a right to expect, our prayers and support. Too often we have prayed for our church leaders on Sunday and proceeded to slag them off mercilessly the rest of the week. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be held accountable but the attacks on predecessors have usually been about our own preferences and prejudices that we have convinced ourselves must be God’s will.
  7. Throughout this post I’ve referred to ‘he’ for ‘he’ it will be. I look forward to the day when that is no longer the case.
Now where did I put that betting slip?