Wednesday, 28 November 2012

In the week of the feast of St Andrew

The pressures of modern ministry can be extraordinary. This week has felt like one of those times. My father's funeral was on Monday (not taken by me, thank heavens) and my new duties in the diocese are starting to form. The charges are taking big deeps collective breaths before Advent starts this weekend. And there is just so much to do!

The pressure also comes with trying to support children at home and school, and to let them be 'normal' teenagers, whatever that might be. And My wife and I have to fit in our time and space. It's not an easy task, and it's one that I have seen and heard of as being far too much for people, mere humans, to carry.

So where is God in all this?

In every person in need who phones when answering that phone call is the last thing you want to do, in every sender of an email that makes you want to pull your hair out! In the ferry folk who don't wait for you to nearly get onto that ferry, but set off when you are 200 yards away. God's also in the faithful folk who turn up and keep on turning up. He's also in the colour of the moon, or the frosting of ice on the pine trees in an icy drive. God is everywhere in all we do and all we are.

But it is important to remember that he has always been there, and will always be there, no matter how much work we may do, how many people we may deal with, how many petitions we may sign. God was, and is and will be. Blessed be God. I will try to hold on to that, in the weeks, months and years to come.

Blessed be God.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Two southern provinces and their clergy...

A little while ago the Church of England just failed to pass a measure that (as its principal function) would have allowed women to become bishops in that church (the Anglican provinces of York and Canterbury).  It was nail-bitingly close, and one of the houses just didn't quite make the 2/3 majority needed.

Why care? As a Scottish Episcopal priest, it won't affect life.  We are allowed women bishops up here already.  At that point the complacency ends.  We haven't had one, although there have been attempts (we vote for bishops up here). Staggeringly few women are even in the few senior posts in the church, the deans and the provosts.  Only ever 2 female provosts and one female dean.  Not a particularly good track record.  But it takes years for a change to flow through a church, especially one that is contentious from a theological or traditional view.

I was ordained in England, and have many, many friends in ministry there.  Some of them are wrapped up in the campaign for women's episcopal ministry.  They will be hurting very much this evening.

But the vote was much more subtle than just the straightforward issue of gender justice, as Kelvin points out. The continued issue of maintaining a sanctuary for traditionalists who don't wish to accept the ministry of women bishops has also been rejected.  That was a live issue when I was still in the C of E, and I found myself taking a rather hardline against any compromise, and signing petitions etc. against such measures.  Go and see how green the grass of non-conformism or the ordinariate actually is, I muttered.

But how pyrrhic a victory is rejecting compromise at the expense of delaying female bishops for further years?  It is a hard, hard place that many English clergy will find themselves tomorrow morning.  Many of them have tweeted 'Ashamed to be Anglican,' and rather than pedantically correcting them, I share some sympathy.

Our house in Scotland is equally not in order from a gender justice point of view: no sanctuary for traditionalists, a canonical structure that allows female bishops: and we have still not made it...

And as for the issue of some other moratoria.  We'll let that lie for the moment.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A virtuous woman...

St Margaret of Scotland.  Saint.  Political refugee.  Englishwoman in Scotland.  Hungarian-rooted Anglo-Saxon.  Wife of a king.

The reading from Proverbs known for 'Who can find a virtuous woman?' is set in the Scottish lectionary.  Rather full of references to home-making and domestic bliss.  Getting her children up 'happy.' Not very PC - to aspire to the good favours of her husband.  I've read it at a funeral or two, but it seems to jar to the modern mind.

But she was a holy, rooted woman, who touched the lives of all those she met for good.  From North to South Queensferry, to Dunfermline where she was queen, she cared for the ordinary people, because God cared for them.

She is universally popular in our churches.  A window from Dunoon on the left, from 1938, and a window on the right from Rothesay from 1907 place her in the affections of these two west coast congregations.    Who can find a virtuous woman?  We seem to have done so...