MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY NEW YEAR, deLIGHTful EPIPHANY and ...
... this blog will be on holiday until 20 January unless something drags me out of holiday mode.
Tuesday 31 December 2013 THIS ANNOUNCEMENT is worth noting. Congratulations Sir ++ David.
Also, for a review of 2013 with just a tiny lacing of humour, read this (Spoiler: do not drink your coffee at the same time).
By the way, for evidence that God is alive and well, read this.
And don't ignore A N Wilson.
Now to the title of this post ...
For once I think it fair to say that TEC may not be much included in this particular Anglican Communion event. A cricket match is proposed, to settle old scores and all that. Read about it here.
Naturally, I am available for selection. I can bat, bowl, field, umpire and carry drinks. Or simply be the team chaplain.
Happy Days at Lord's playing for the Lord.
Heaven on earth and earth meets heaven.
Of course in view of recent discussion of evolution on ADU, "I am available for selection" has a dark layer of nearly hidden meaning to the phrase :)
IN OTHER NEWS AND VIEWS
What is it with newspapers. David Cameron nominates Lawrence of Arabia as his favourite film (as a matter of fact one of my top three) and occasions a deep analytical look at what this tells us about the British PM. I suppose it is possible to like a film because, er, it is likeable. Anyway, apart from that odd bit, this Independent article has some good words to consider in this season of Jolly Self-Indulgence.
I am very proud of my children and what they have thus far achieved in life but I notice that somehow, and I am sure it is not deliberate, Christmas letters from others seem to involve much more successful children!! It's kind of, "It's great that your child is in the process of becoming Sir Isaac Newton but let me tell you about my future Albert Einstein." Nevertheless it is good to read good news and there are some amazing future leaders of NZ among my friends! For the record, none of my children are studying physics.
At year's end there is no doubt that the religious phenomenon of the year, the shining star of the Christmas season, is Pope Francis. I think it well worth all Christians who care for the progress of the gospel and the future of the churches to reflect carefully and intentionally-re-what-lessons-we-might-apply-to-our-local-situation on why Pope Francis has become this phenomenon. Many articles are being written at year's end about the Franciscan impact on the world (here is but one). Of course there is a grave danger, to which many seem to fall, of reading into the Pope's ministry what we want to read so that for some it is his liberalism that is being celebrated, for others his compassionate humanity, but there is also his intent to reform a sclerotic Curia, to refocus the church on Vatican 2 and its engagement with the modern world, his balancing act as liberal-on-social-justice and conservative-on-doctrine. But the simple challenge I suggest is that the Pope demonstrates what Christ-likeness might mean in a church leader in 2013 and onwards.
Has too much of what the public perceives recently in church leaders, whether this Archbishop of Canterbury or the previous one, or the city's leading Pentecostal pastor, or the local community around my vicarship been of some other qualities of church leadership? Even within the church we critique this leader for being 'too managerial' and that one for 'wishy-washiness on basic belief', and another on 'moulding his local church in his own image.' What might our leadership look like to the world and to ourselves within the church if we modelled Christ? The value of Francis is that he gives us a glimpse of what this might look like.
Uganda is in the news these days 'for all the wrong reasons.' This blog post gives a careful account of why and how this has become so, and the role fair-minded Christians might take in shaping the true narrative of what is undoubtedly a very difficult story for the West to get right. LATER THOUGHT: that is not to say that any Christian anywhere is justified before God in supporting ill-treatment of fellow human beings, nor of punishments which 'do not fit the crime'.
Believe it or not, this schism is not over sex or power. Must be over money!
There is a bit of a contretemps in our church over our 'Anglican' approach to pokie (gambling) machines and accessing their profits, a portion of which are available to assist the 'community.' This article tells the world, well, NZ, about three key Anglican leaders in our church and their approaches to pokie machine profits.
Bishop (not Archbishop) Ross Bay of Auckland "refusing to resile from a strident anti-pokie stance" and "who reiterated the diocese's 2005 ban on applying for pokie funds because of the "detrimental impact on society and people's lives" and "the destructive and corrosive effects of gaming machines"."
Bishop Victoria Matthews of Christchurch (my boss! Also not Archbishop) "wrote letters of support [of cathedral applications for $250000/$500000] to chase funding for the new cathedral."
The Reverend Jolyon White: "Christchurch's Anglican diocese has subsequently voted to refuse pokie grants, driven by their Social Justice Enabler, Rev Jolyon White, a long-time anti-pokies campaigner. White, who runs a small social work unit [out of Theology House where I work!!], said the church was diverse and had "no central rulebook" but most within it realised the damage of poker machines.
"The church has had ethical investments, so it is not a new thing to be considering where our funding comes from. And to have funding from essentially the most vulnerable people in society . . . is a terrible way to run any society in, but it's particularly appalling for a social service agency or a church.""
The article calls this situation 'schism': "A schism was revealed in the Anglican Church recently when a pokie trust escaped censure for refusing to give $500,000 in grants to the Christchurch Cathedral rebuild."
One point we might remember when reflecting on these situations is that they can involve differences between friends and not just between colleagues. I count Jolyon as a good friend, as well as Dean Lynda Patterson of Christ Church cathedral. Bishop Victoria is boss and bishop to all three of us, including being Chair of the Board of Theology House from which Jolyon White's Social Justice Unit operates. Here then is genuine diversity of view across a closely allied team of people. If we can live with this 'schism', might we live with other divides?
Just to avoid appearances that I am sitting on the fence by not giving my own view, I agree with Bishop Ross Bay and the stances of the Dioceses of Auckland and Christchurch.
I am pretty sure I have the timing right if I say that my Diocese's stance was determined in September this year, after the earlier applications and their turning down. The article relates to a more recent review of the turning down decision by Internal Affairs.
Meanwhile my thoughts turn (helped by the book Catastrophe by Max Hastings) to the beginnings of the First World War (about which I have never known heaps). This article in the Independent recalls one hundred years ago, the last Christmas before the war, and reminds us of a time of hope and promise, so soon to be shattered.
In some ways the shattered world of 1914 is still shattered, especially if we turn our gaze away from the relatively successful European Union of the past fifty years and look at the Middle East, where conflicts have direct links back to the carve up after WWI. It might surprise you who is touted as the best current leader in the Middle East today.
ADDED: on a somewhat bleak but I fear realistic note re the significance of WW1, this insight is worth a gander into what faces the world, and how things might have turned out differently.
I think I have managed so far not to post anything on the Pope's recent apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Perhaps 2014 will give opportunity to reflect on this strategic (but long) document.
In the meantime, and also from the Independent, here is an article reflecting on the joint challenge facing both Roman and Anglican churches in the 21st century in the West.
UPDATE: a 'must read' is this Fulcrum celebration/reflection on Evangelii Gaudium.
I see via Twitter which via Google led me to this article that the C of E is going to have a debate in February about clerical robing rules. An account of current C of E rules is here. I think this is a debate we need to have in ACANZP also. On the one hand we should not be exploring Fresh Expressions of church or generally bewailing that fact that we are out of touch with the world around us and NOT also ask whether we have the right rules in place re robing. On the other hand we are de facto a church in which the rules are broken: if we are not going to discipline for breaking the rules then we should have rules which fit with the reality of church life today while also acknowledging the principles upon which robe rule breaking is based: the importance of dressing in a way which seeks to be an incarnational presence in the name of Jesus in a world which is no longer ancient/medieval/Victorian.
Believe it or not, some things are better in the world today
My first degree was in maths so over the years I have had more than a passing interest in the achievements of Alan Turing. Today we learn that he has been pardoned for a criminal offence that today is not a criminal offence. Whatever the rights and wrongs of homosexual sexual activity in God's eyes, it has been detrimental even deadly to many gay men, and notably Alan Turing, that such activity has until relatively recently been criminalized. I think that some things in the world today are better than previously.