What a year so far. Forget Trump. It’s the stuff happening in the Anglican church which is truly jaw dropping.
First it was Glasgow and the Islamic denial of Christ’s divinity in St Mary’s Cathedral. Then there was Gloucester, where an exhibition in the cathedral put Christianity on a par with all religions and none and which was opened by an Islamic call to prayer and included the following.
The event will really be an exciting event full of firsts for the world of faith, we are assured. Oh, goody.
Then there was Llandaff. Clerical ladies dancing liturgically around a tacky, tissue paper bonfire, invoking the names of Old Testament women and cavorting in the Cathedral Close with sparklers. Lastly, ordinands in a highly respected theological college, Wescott House in Cambridge, thought it would be a great jape to hold a service with the liturgy written in Victorian Queer slang.
I’m prepared to think the Glasgow incident was an unfortunate mistake which wouldn’t have been blown up in the media if the Provost had had the sense to issue an immediate apology.
The queer liturgy in Cambridge is neither clever nor funny, nor was it a mistake by the students involved; it was carefully planned and thought out.
What the hell – I use that word advisedly – is going on? What on earth were they thinking. Were they thinking?
MAECymru stands for Merched a’r Eglwys (women and the church), also ‘Ministry and Equality” and Mae Cymru means “It’s Wales”. What Humpty Dumpty would call a portmanteau title.
What’s so sad about the MAE stuff in Llandaff is the insult it is to the committed women clergy, most of those ordained originally 25 years ago, who still behave in the same way, quietly fulfilling their vocations, taking their services using established liturgies, visiting the sick, christening, marrying, burying, with dignity, compassion and reverence and having nothing in common with the LGBT+SSM sisterhood, but too often tarred with the same brush. Those who are unable to support women priests should at least acknowledge that, at the moment, these particular clergy are hoeing a very lonely furrow and have nothing to dance about.
Jesus didn’t need empty gestures to get his message across. No fireworks. No dancing, liturgical or otherwise. No mock bonfires. When He made a fire He cooked fish. He used simple words, so simple that these days they frighten us. We no longer tell things the way they are but the way we would like them to be. We are brilliant at obfuscation, mendacity and gobbledygook. Jesus told it the way it is. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 How could Gloucester happen after reading this?
Is it going to be like this for the rest of the year; dafter, wilder, madder? Or could today’s reading from John 15 make life plainer and simpler for us all.
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”