I was sitting outside my house at 6.50 this morning drinking my second mug of Darjeeling when the Guardian arrived with the headline ‘'Williams under siege over gay bishop veto'. I read the articles by Stephen Bates, Riazat Butt and Andrew Brown and then said the morning office and settled to meditate. For 35 minutes I was more fully present than any morning this week, resting in awareness of the rich diversity and beauty around me and the infinite goodness and love of God flowing through creation, ever present in the reality which is God. I’d previously read this morning’s lectionary passage from 2 Corinthians 4:
It is not ourselves we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. For the God who said, ‘Out of darkness light shall shine,’ has caused his light to shine in our hearts, the light which is knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
This is a deep reality for me as I pray and meditate each morning. It is a deep reality for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians who know in the depths of their hearts and souls the light that shines and the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We are here and now living into the deepest faith and a profound experience of the presence of God. We are not leaving God and we know that God will never abandon us nor any other beings in creation. Talks of splits in the church is, at this level of deep contemplation and prayer, irrelevant, because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
It is in awareness of these deepest realities that I will drive to York and a meeting of General Synod which takes place when the Church of England faces intense media scrutiny yet again over its attitude to women and gays. My prayers are for a decision in Synod which grants the potential in legislation for full equality in the episcopate for women.
My heart was unsettled as I went to sleep last night. My friend Andrew Goddard had emailed, taken aback by my Wednesday blog blaming evangelicals for leaking information from the Crown Nominations Commission. We had sat in the sun in Andrew’s garden in Bristol last Friday, talking mostly about scapegoating. I’ve just read Raising Abel by James Alison.
Andrew commented that I might be fuelling suspicions and speculating in unhelpful ways about who in the Church of England could be to blame, leading to scapegoating kicking in again in powerful ways whether against Rowan or Jeffrey John or Colin Slee or Chris Sugden or whoever.
I take Andrew’s reflection very seriously. I am committed to a path in which I believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the capacity for us to cease scapegoating each other and stop projecting our fear and blame onto other groups. Only, absolutely only, when we cease to do this, do we have the potential to stop the rot and live with others into the Kingdom of God.
Time to pack! I can do no better than sign off with the final sentence from the email Andrew Goddard sent me as I was writing:
Trust that in midst of a pretty traumatic Synod you and all there - especially Rowan! - will continue to know God's loving presence and peace.
Colin Coward - on the road to York