Friday, 23 September 2011

Signs of the times

Our church struggles with difficulty to hold conflicting viewpoints on a wide range of issues. For the twenty years surrounding my ordinations in the early 80's  we struggled with the whole question of whether women could be ordained as priests.
For the early part of that time until about 1975 I was quite stridently opposed and then became more and more certain that it was the right thing to do. In 1992 the Anglican Church of Australia finally did, quite some time after other parts of the world, and some time before other parts. We are a bit like that.
We haven't yet completed the process!
The current controversy surrounds same-sex relationships.
It would seem we are determined to finish the destruction of Anglicanism that the inward-looking war about women's ordination didn't manage to complete.
I have blogged recently (here) about how traditional Anglicanism struggles with difference. But I wonder if all that is now over.
At a meeting last night we met to discuss some feelings and implications about the resignation of an openly gay female priest (here)...almost the worst possible combination in  some  people's minds...a woman priest and gay....
I expressed a sadness that the church was not a safe place.
I came away feeling that we had been told that it was unreasonable to expect an 'institution' to be a safe place.

I reflect:
When this journey began we often used the language of 'family' to describe the community of the church. I felt uncomfortable with this descriptor.  What ever else it was trying to be the Church community did not seem to me to express the same unconditional love and acceptance that my parents tried to bring to their children.
So I always preferred the word 'community'...that is, we had a commonality, and a unity which came from our communion with each other as brothers and sisters of Jesus. Children, as the language of the catechism and worship puts it, of the same heavenly Father. I would often proclaim in  my teaching "We are the body of Christ"...words that we use as we greet each other in peace at the Eucharist. We are committed to each other
Last night I felt the language was shifting even further away. We are certainly not family, one wonders if we are community. We are 'institution'. And that institution is not 'safe'
I find this very sad.
There is much, much more that could be said 

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