Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Gardener.

I think we may safely leave fascism aside for another day and I will take advice from one of our commentators and leave football alone as well. The fact that I have no interest in football helps of course and it is hard to write about Bar Billiards any more than to say 'I like playing Bar Billiards'. Let us instead turn to the issue of women's ordination and continuing churches and I shall prepare myself for a barrage of emails and Karen's comments, but as she is jet lagged maybe she will be moderately sedated. Have another tablet dear and keep reading.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am no fan of the continuing Churches, although I realise and accept that the situation may be different in the USA, although the reasoning remains the same. This is not an attack on the Anglican Catholic Church in the UK as their presiding Bishop will be glad to read, nor is it intended to slight the same institution in the USA. I understand their stance although I disagree with it. However, you may remember a few months ago when GAFCON first reared its head and the idea of off shore morality havens first appeared, that they were in communication with a number of continuing Churches - some of which are of very dubious practice. This was about the time that Damian Thompson seemingly made up the entire story about the TAC putting a catechism of the Roman Catholic Church on the altar or the RC Church in Walsingham. Nothing of the sort happened.

We remarked at the time and have remarked incessantly since that FiF and GAFCON would be incompatible, a view shared by everyone I know who has expressed an opinion either way. A new group is forming though in the US, ACNA, which seems to be ECUSA without Schori and Gene Robinson. It is a mainly evangelical group which, like GAFCON, is courting Anglo Catholic suitors. Why I cannot imagine, we share no doctrine of the Eucharist or orders and if we were to put the catechism on their altar I think they may recoil in horror at what is contained therein. This particular group contains evangelicals who are in agreement with the ordination of women as Priests but not Bishops. This new group may seem attractive to many in ECUSA who are sick of overly liberal, pluralist leadership which does not have reference to the teaching of the Church over two thousand years but seeks to change fundamentals of faith (and I sympathise with them on that count) but a group such as ours which stands with the vast majority of Christians throughout the world and with two thousand years of informed teaching and doctine in recognising the equality but difference of men and women in relation to Church order would be very unwise to leave one broken communion for another.

Archbishop Haverland of the Anglican Catholic Church, was asked to attend the inaugural meeting of the ACNA, but refused with a beautifully written letter which explains just what I am trying to say here; that in ACNA and indeed in GAFCON we see the fundamental alterations in the faith which has produced groups like the ACC and FiF opposed to changing the tenets of the faith delivered to the saints and taught by Christ.

St Therese of Lisieux comforts us when she said 'The guest of our soul knows our misery, He comes to find an empty tent within us, that is all He asks', that is, He comes to us and will make His home in us, the me in Thee and the Thee in me, if only we keep His commands and strive to maintain and grow the faith He taught by His unending love and mercy. I find this hard and I think probably you do as well, with so many attacks on the faith from without and within, sometimes for being Christian sometimes for keeping certain viewpoints. It is difficult not to shout back sometimes, to turn the other cheek and to speak humbly and live justly, according to the example of Christ. Conflict within the Church at the scale facing us is, ultimately, diabolical. I take as my example the imaginary figure of the gardener whom Mary Magdalen did not see when she saw Christ, I like to imagine him enjoying a moment of mistaken identity while looking at this wonderful scene of friends equally at home in the presence of Angels and thorny weeds. I would do well to strive to continue being at home in the presence of Angels and thorny weeds, reminding me that the Church commissioned by Christ has a duty to be in all places at all times, we are just lucky to live in such interesting times, when we have the chance to live the faith against a backdrop of secularism and fighting. The darkness makes the light shine brighter, no?