Showing posts from May, 2012

Women Bishops and the lessons of history

"Like a mighty tortoise
moves the church of God.
Brothers we are treading
where we've always trod."

Any institution changes slowly and change is costly. Should the consecration as bishops of women as well as men be at any cost? Not at any cost in my view, but inevitably at some cost. Where there is disagreement its resolution almost always involves compromise. The draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure supported by 42 of the 44 dioceses already represents a potentially workable compromise. It is arguable if the 2 additional amendments added last week by the House of Bishops are a compromise too far (for some) or not far enough (for others).

Yesterday was Josephine Butler's commemoration day. Thinking about her I wondered if we can learn anything from the history of higher education for women that is relevant for the C. of E.'s currently ridiculous position in relation to women in the episcopate? As referred to in a previous post this …

Pentecost Sunday

"When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability."
Acts 2: 1-4

Faithful God
who fulfilled the promises of Easter
by sending us your Holy Spirit
and opening to every race and nation
the way to life eternal:
open our lips by your Spirit,
that every tongue may tell of your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Common Worship Pentecost Post Communion Prayer

Image: Pentecost Bonfire by Marcin Bajer, Plickr, CC Licence

Flying Bishops without the airplane?

Following yesterday's post I intended to do a round-up today of reactions to the amendments made on Monday to the draft measure to enable women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England.

David Keen at Opinionated Vicar has got there first, so I'm not going to waste time reinventing the wheel - if you're interested take a look at his round up with a range of links and thoughts from different perspectives here. Thank you David Keen.

My own thoughts and feelings on the matter have turned to deep disappointment that any amendments were added to the draft legislation. I think this already includes enough protection for those who believe they must be protected from female leaders in the church. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2 is about to celebrate 60 years as 'supreme governor' of the Church of England.

(This post's title comes from a phrase in Telling Secrets' post 'Church of England lays another curate's egg…

Bishops' fudge or clarification? Women in Episcopate

Yesterday afternoon the House of Bishops of the Church of England concluded its consideration of the draft legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England.
I'm thankful that it agreed the legislation should be returned to General Synod for final approval. 
Well, that much is clear - so long in coming, but so far so good. But here comes the fudge, or is it clarification?
The House of Bishops had power (given by February 2012 General Synod) to amend the draft Bishops and Priest (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure "as it thinks fit". It has now made 2 amendments. From the Church of England press release yesterday, here they are: "The House accepted an amendment making it clear that the use of the word "delegation" (in Clause 2 of the draft Measure) relates to the legal authority which a male bishop acting under a diocesan scheme would have and was distinct from the authority to exercise the functions of the office of b…

Ascension Day 2012

How do you explain Jesus' ascension into heaven without diminishing the mystery? I've been looking at paintings of the Ascension of Jesus and find most rather ridiculous. So I've chosen some clouds to illustrate this post. Acts 1: 1-11 refers to a cloud that received Jesus out of his disciples' sight. Cloud is symbolic of the presence of God. And for me the Ascension is as much about presence as absence - about humanity raised into the presence of God and Jesus no longer confined to time, space or particular locality, but present and potentially available by his Spirit to all people, everywhere.

My favourite Ascension account is the end of Luke's gospel: "Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. while he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God." Luke 24: 50-53 I li…

Replacement chosen by lottery and prayer

Today is the festival of the apostle Matthias. He was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. You can read the story here. It was Peter who spelled out the criteria. It must be a man. That ruled out Mary Magdalene and other women who would have qualified in other respects, except that in that culture the witness of a woman was thought unreliable. It had to be a man from the larger group of disciples who were with Peter and the others from the time of John's baptism to Jesus' ascension. It had to be someone who with the other apostles  would be a witness to Jesus' resurrection.

The 120 gathered believers proposed 2 people: Joseph called Barsabbas (also called Justus) and Matthias. They were presumably both suitable. They prayed that God's choice should be shown and then they cast lots,
"...and the lot fell on Matthias".And that's really all we know about him. He's not mentioned by name again in the New Testament. Perhaps Theophilus, for whom Luke wrote the Act…

Discomfort, anger, tears and foolishness - what a blessing!

What do think of when you hear the word 'blessings'? I think of things like health, loving family, enough to eat - things that make me feel good, comfortable or joyful. I don't think first of discomfort, anger, tears and foolishness. So when, thanks to 'Blue Eyed Ennis',  I came across this anonymous blessing, quoted below, it really made me think. It's called the Franciscan Blessing, not because St Francis wrote it, but because it's in the Franciscan tradition. This is not an easy prayer to pray. Oh yes, the words are easy to say, but am I prepared for God to grant this request? 

May God bless us with a restless discomfort
at easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships,
so that we may seek truth boldly
and love deep within our heart.

May God bless us with holy anger
at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
so that we may tirelessly work for justice, freedom
and peace among all people.

May God bless us with the gift of tear…

How could the world overflow with gratitude?

What if the whole world overflowed with gratefulness? I love this serene and hopeful prayer of thanksgiving by Br. David Steindl-Rast. It has beautiful images and music and a vision of a world overflowing with gratefulness.

I am the vine

At the end of this 5th Sunday of Easter, some words of Jesus to his disciples, from today's gospel reading:

"I am the vine,
you are the branches.Those who abide in meand I in them bear much fruit,because apart from meyou can do nothing." John 15: 5

"Abide in me." That's Jesus' command. 
"Bear much fruit". That's Jesus' promise.

Image by doctor_bob: morgueFile free photo

Friday Five

Here's a Friday round-up of 5 blog posts that have caught my attention this week.

Tabloid Watch continues to blog about bad journalism. Today it picks up the nonsensical claim made in the Daily Express's front-page headline that there is an EU plot to scrap Britain and 'wipe us off the map'.

Gillan on God and Politics in the UK is always worth a read. He comments on Barack Obama's call to prayer yesterday for the US National Day of Prayer. He hopes David Cameron is listening. 

Dave Bookless on The Planetwise Blog asks 'In what sense is creation good?' He raises interesting questions about suffering, death and disorder. This led me to respond with 'Bird-watcher sets cat among pigeons'. 

On his satirical blog 'Of Course I could be wrong' MadPriest reacts to the appointment of a new Bishop of Chichester with Church of England Betrays Women (Again). Mmm...

That's it for today. Enjoy your weekend!

Image Credit: Arlo Bates on Flickr: CC Licence

Inclusive or Expansive Language in Worship?

How do you name God? If you pray, how do you address G - d? 

Does it matter what language is used for God in public worship?

Anyone who has struggled with   these questions has encountered the obvious pitfalls to be stumbled into by using:
gendered language or non-gendered languagenames of power and authority or gentleness and humilityBiblical metaphors or contemporary metaphorsI could go on, but I won't, because the purpose of this post is to recommend an excellent short essay Naming God posted by Maggi Dawn. She writes about the importance of how language is used in theology and worship and how pastoral, theological and aesthetic concerns need to be interwoven in constructing liturgy. She highlights some of the problems posed by using 'inclusive language':
replacing male pronouns and patriarchal language with female simply replaces one gendered power structure with anotherremoving gendered language has theological limitationsrewriting beautiful historic texts is tortuous and…