More God, Less Mess

I haven’t got a broken arm this time but even so there will now be an Intermission—until mid-September.

Why? Well, let’s face it, events in recent weeks have been pretty dire. When Psalm 88 seems appropriate day after day, it’s not just impossible to find adequate words, but it’s definitely time to step back and take stock.

This time last week, I was girding my loins, stiffening my upper lip, hunting out my bow of burning gold, but mainly concentrating on listening for the “still small voice” of God. I knew it must be here somewhere if only I could silence the horrifying or ludicrous cacophony of the media.

Last Monday I wanted to blog, briefly, about two things and I reckoned I just had time to write a rough draft before I drove my ‘one and only husband so far’ to hospital for an operation.

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The first thing on the list was an ordinand who was spending time sharing the Ramadam Fast with local Muslims, just a couple of weeks before her Ordination. Supporting close community relations is praise worthy in its place but surely preparing for Ordination should take precedence over everything else. Swatting up on the 39 Articles, for example, reading the Bible, and simply spending as much time as possible in prayer and meditation all seem more appropriate. More recently I saw a picture of that same ordinand in a pre-ordination photo with her Bishop. Why didn’t it surprise me that she was wearing a black t shirt emblazoned with the words “Refugees Welcome”.

My second worry was this thing on the Synod agenda about re-baptising transgendered people. What sort of God does Chris Newlands worship, I wonder? Is his god such a little chap that he has to be reminded that Bob is now Esmeralda and needs re-christening otherwise she won’t feel as though she belongs?

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Baptism in the Jordan

If he/she has been brought up in the Anglican Church, and properly instructed in the tenets of that religion, both Bob and Esmarelda should know that God is aware of exactly who and what they are. Try reading Isaiah 55 vv8&9 for a start. “For my  thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Surely we should aspire to God’s thoughts and ways, however inadequately, rather than let Synod drag us down the secular, ungodly pathway.

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14th century purbeck marble font in which I was baptised.

If transgendered people want a big party to celebrate their new “Me” that’s fine. But it needs to be a secular occasion because God has been with them every step of their journey, even if they aren’t aware of it. God is Faithfulness. He was there at their sacrament of Baptism and, whatever they’ve been up to since then, He has been right alongside them. A transgender man or woman might well feel that he or she doesn’t belong in the church without another baptism. However, the last thing the church needs is yet another sex vote in Synod. What is essential is that the doubtful, unsure, ill-informed sit down with a sound theologian to be taught the Truth.

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My son was christened in a college chapel without a font so the Chaplain used a punchbowl instead.

Perhaps they should just go away and read the service of baptism. Unlike the Bishop of Truro’s advert for a ‘Strategic Planning Manager – Transforming Mission’* it is written in simple English prose, so should be an absolute doddle to understand. Words like “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

However, to get back to last Monday. Instead of driving 30 minutes west to one hospital I had to drive 30 minutes east to the A & E department of another, after the ‘one and only’ had had a dizzy spell and fallen of a high stool. He’s fine, thank you, and the treatment we received was superb though he’s still waiting for an op.. Also, in the hospital, among sick, anxious, injured people, waiting quietly for the ministrations of a highly professional, caring, devoted, cheerfully smiling staff, it was suddenly not nearly so difficult to hear ‘the still small voice.’

Have a relaxing, refreshing summer!

*See last week’s blog “Truth is Funnier than Fiction”




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