Sunday, 21 March 2010

Let God do it.....

A mega thank you to all those who have let me have their thoughts in response to these rambles. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant - to engage with you in the conversation is a real joy. The blogs that have got a lot of us going have been the one on trust and the last one on marriage and relationships. I was personally encouraged by those who didn't judge me when I wrote and said that I was finding trusting God a challenge at the moment. I realise in some people's eyes Vicars should probably keep this sort of thing to themselves and live lives of perfected faith and purity, but it has certainly been helpful to me to have promises and words of prayer and support. To me this is the Body of Christ at work.
The blog on marriage and relationships brought forth a variety of views - but what I found encouraging was that there are a growing number of people from a more 'evangelical' perspective, who are acknowledging the context in which we now live, and feel that it is more important that all people are given the opportunity to respond to God's love in Christ. What happens in their lives after that, is something that God does in and through them, and nothing about human pressure, judgement or church expectation. If it doesn't equate to what some people think should be 'right' in our limited and culturally shaped worlds, then maybe we will have to live with that and continually seek God's grace and mercy.

I am an admirer of Bishop James Jones of Liverpool who, coming from a fairly conservative evangelical stance on human sexuality, has embarked on a journey of reflection and change. He likens this to what is meant by being a member of the Anglican community in this day and age. We live amongst diversity, and maybe our church communities need to affirm the value of diversity more - not just in style and practice, but more fundamentally in issues relating to morality and sexuality. I would encourage you to go onto the Liverpool Dicoesan site and read his presidential address for March 2010.

As Bishop called to “maintain the spirit of unity in the bond of peace” in the Diocese of Liverpool where we have the full spectrum of moral opinion on human sexuality I believe that to have “diversity without enmity”, as the Dean put it at the Bishop’s Council, provides a safe and a spiritually and emotionally healthy place for Christians of differing convictions to discern the will of God for our lives. To know and to do God’s will is our calling. The place for that discernment is the Body of Christ where the different members, differentiated by the diversity of our graces, gifts and experiences, are called to be in harmony and love with one another.  It is also offered in the hope that we will let nothing deflect us from mission, the sending out of us all to embrace the world in the love of God.

It is key to God's mission that church communities are safe places for all people and their relationships. That is why I welcome a Bishop who has realised that without Gospel inclusivity there is no mission. Yancey's story of the 3.00am party for Hawaian prostitute ends with the punch line: 'What sort of church throws a party for a prostitute at 3.00am in the morning?' Acceptance and grace... period. The rest is up to God... thank goodness. He's had a lot of practice.

Oxford - well Cuddesdon actually- for the Weddings project at the crack of dawn.


  1. I have enjoyed reading your rambles Malcolm. I have also found from personal experience that being honest about my difficulties in faith (whether it is trust or prayer etc) from the pulpit it always really helps folk. If I can share my difficulties on the faith journey and say how I moved on from them it makes moving on in faith seem so much more attainable to others. I applaud your honesty in describing your finding trust a challenge. If we give people too high an ideal to live up to we don't help them in the long run. Walking the road together, helping each other up when we fall or stumble is so important!!

  2. To me this sounds very scary and confusing. It sounds more like the church being shaped by the world rather than the other way around. Does 'affirming the value of diversity' mean changing our idea of morality and going with the world's instead of that of Scripture? Where is the touchstone?

    I totally agree that a church full of prostitutes, homosexuals, liars, gossips etc etc is not a bad thing but indicates that the good news is working. It's probably what we actually have anyway. But Paul says 'that is what some of you were', indicating that we move on.. perhaps I'm missing the point.