Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year - Just! New Hope - Yes!

This cartoon appeared in The Times towards the end of last year - just after the vote on women bishops.  In my own jaded view, the words "do synods" could so easily be replaced by "does The Church of England make God's life work seem pointless".  For a long time now people have been referring to "The Dear Old Church of England" with a certain fondness.  Nowadays I struggle to be so generous.

There is so much excellent work going on in parishes across the country, indeed across the world.  The churches in Filey parish are a great example of this as are many, many others.  Yet this so often seems to be despite the Anglican hierarchy rather than by being supported by it.

Those in positions of authority seem to be much more concerned with navel gazing than with being Jesus to a world in need.  They go round and round in circles addressing and readdressing the old chestnuts of tradition and practice rather than looking at the needs of the world through Jesus' loving eyes.

Women are barred from becoming bishops because none of the disciples was a women.  But gay men can now be bishops.  Do we assume from this that those making decisions are assuming that this is allowable because Jesus or at least one of his disciples was gay - or is this just another example of clerical woolly thinking?  Is the ministry of a gay man somehow more valuable than the ministry of a woman?

My belief is that God values each of us as an individual with our own gifts, talents, strengths and limitations.  We should not be drawing comparisons en bloc between different groups of God's people.  Is there any hope for the future if this is where the energy of the church is directed?

So much seems to be so wasteful of God's great gifts - and so painful.  And yet.  And yet........

At the beginning of another year, I believe there IS still room for hope.  The Christian gospel is about death and resurrection.  Death to the old ways and resurrection to new life in Jesus.  Death to "an eye for an eye" and resurrection to Jesus' way of love and hope and service.

Is the present incarnation of the Church of England no longer fit for purpose?  Perhaps.  But if it has the will to die to the old hierarchical class system of yore and rise again in the image of Christ newly focused on service, sharing and reaching out as Jesus instructed - then we have to believe there is still hope!  It may need a miracle - but that is part of Jesus' way, isn't it!

Let us approach this new year of change in the parish with hope, with expectation, with love, and with a renewed understanding that with God in Jesus there really is room for new life, new understandings, new ways of working and living for Christ.  And let us start by valuing those who are working for Christ whatever their sex, orientation, or position in hierarchical structures.

Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Rachel. Just catching up after the festive break and caught your piece. I sometimes feel like falling out with the church and all it entails but somehow I can never fall out with God. His love and grace is amazing.

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