Where’s the Cry of Anguish? (Prayers during Covid)

Not long after the current outbreak started, the Church of England nationally issued some prayers ‘for personal and group use at this challenging time’. They are available at the C of E website. They are good prayers and I hope that many people find them helpful. But something strikes me about them: they offer no articulation of personal negative or difficult feelings. In other words, they do not facilitate any personal lament.

I’ll explain what I mean by that, why it might matter, and what can helpfully supplement those prayers.

Continue reading “Where’s the Cry of Anguish? (Prayers during Covid)”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Allure of the Superlative : Finding Value in the Ordinary

One day last summer, I climbed a mountain. It was a lovely day – if anything a little too hot – and I enjoyed some gorge scrambling, stunning views, and the sense of challenge fulfilled as I reached the top. I sat down to eat my lunch as I admired the view. I was disturbed by only one other person during my break. Yet under a mile away, on a very similar peak, I could see crowds of people. They were coming and going all the time. At one point I tried to count up through my binoculars: there were at least 25 people on the summit at that moment.

The two peaks were very similar: equally accessible, equally scenic, and with similar views. In some respects, the mountain I was on was more impressive than the other. So why should there be such a huge preference for the other, of two virtually equal alternatives? The reason is very simple: that one is the highest peak in England (Scafell Pike); mine was merely the second highest (Scafell).

So this set me thinking. Superlatives are incredibly alluring, aren’t they?

Continue reading “The Allure of the Superlative : Finding Value in the Ordinary”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Will there be Female Bishops in Heaven?

Two new suffragan bishops have been appointed in the Diocese of Chichester, one of the partner Dioceses of St Augustine’s College of Theology. Ruth Bushyager will be Bishop of Horsham and Will Hazlewood will be Bishop of Lewes. I look forward to meeting and working with them.

The press release of The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda, describes Will as a ‘traditional Catholic priest’, by which I assume is meant one who has theological objections to the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate. The Chairman of The Society commented, ‘It is wonderful to see the Church of England’s Five Guiding Principles being lived out in this way.’

The ‘Five Guiding Principles’ are those established following the Act of Synod allowing ordination of women to the episcopate in 2014. They include the superficially contradictory principles that:

Continue reading “Will there be Female Bishops in Heaven?”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Moses and Moaning

I listened to a talk about Moses in which his reluctance to heed God’s call was highlighted. The speaker suggested that five times Moses tried to evade God’s instruction, despite hearing from God direct at the bush that burned but was not consumed (in Exodus chs. 3-4):

  • 3:11 Moses said ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh…’
  • 3:13 Moses said ‘If I go to the Israelites … what shall I say to them?’
  • 4:1 Moses answered ‘Suppose they do not believe me…’
  • 4:10 Moses said ‘I have never been eloquent…’
  • 4:13 Moses said ‘Please send someone else…’

The point the speaker made was that Moses moved ‘from weakness to strength’ when he did eventually respond to God. But I was much more struck by reflecting on the process by which Moses reached that point.

Continue reading “Moses and Moaning”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

‘Until the storms of destruction pass by’ : Living under threat.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by. (Ps 57:1, ESV)

Preparing to ‘weather out’ the current epidemic through staying at home brought to mind this verse. Waiting for the virus to pass has something of the feel of waiting for a storm to pass.

Continue reading “‘Until the storms of destruction pass by’ : Living under threat.”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Book review – Greater Things: The story of New Wine so far

Greater things cover image

Two weeks ago I attended the launch of this book (full citation below) which tells the story of New Wine on its 30th anniversary. It has been a very stimulating read as it narrates and reflects on a movement which has had widespread influence on the Christian church in the UK and beyond. The title is taken from John 14:12 and the teaching of Jesus that ‘whoever believes in me … will do even greater things than these’. It thus identifies New Wine at the outset as a movement of people seeking to follow the example of Jesus and perpetuate his ‘works’.

Continue reading “Book review – Greater Things: The story of New Wine so far”Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail