Wednesday 26 March 2014

A contemporary reflection

Twenty years ago the Church legislated for the Ordination for Women to become priests. We were told that it would increase Church attendance, and some sections of the press went overboard with the news to the embarrassment of the more responsible, but to the delight of the demonstrative. If one took the reports seriously this was going to the answer to all the problems, the pews would be filled, etc, etc. Figures relating to Church attendance just published for the intervening period show a drop of 50%.

Women’s ordination was not of course responsible and it would be unfair and irresponsible to suggest it was, but now the Church establishment has pressurised and manipulated all regular procedures in order to force legislation through which will make appointment of women bishops lawful. We are being fed another false premise that this will make the Church more acceptable to the wider public, but also because there are no men worthy of the post of bishop.

This is grossly offensive to many men who have performed devoted and loyal service in the Church, and this absurdity has been peddled publicly by some men outside the Church, who paradoxically have not shown particular interest in women otherwise.

If we are seriously, (as opposed to posturing on) the desire to make the Church more acceptable to society at large, and with an intention of halting the ever increasing decline, then I suggest some realistic look at what the Church has been doing in the declining years.

When an architect designs a building, he lays down the rules for how that should be carried out. He will also make conditions for the proper foundation, and if both are not performed as directed the building is not likely to stand.

The great Architect of the universe directed how His Church should be built and function. Jesus said ‘I will build my Church’, and He said it would be built on the rock of Peter’s confession of faith. We read in Acts of the tremendous response to Peter’s sermon, and how the early Church devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles.

We are not following the maker’s instructions in today’s Church. A study of just recent events illustrates this. The Church held a vote on a crucial issue, on which there is biblical guidance, and when it didn’t get the result it wanted, which was in pleasing society, the pattern was to have votes until you succeeded. Same sex marriage was proposed and instead of vigorously opposing, some were actively campaigning for it, and preachers were in some places suspended for speaking against it. Blessings for civil partnerships are discouraged, but guidelines surreptitiously appear to allow such blessings.

The Bible calls on us to worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. We have seen a Vicar ask the congregation to join her in dancing in the aisles to pop music at a service of HOLY matrimony; a proposed baptism service with tables arranged as a restaurant; couples invited to bring their children with them when they themselves are getting married; and Vicars performing marriages in cowboy dress. All manner of ideas, mostly arranged with good intention, but trendy have been introduced into services to appear ‘cool’; yet with little, if any, lasting effect.

We are frowned upon when we preach that Jesus is the ONLY way to God, and are invited to join in worship with those who do not recognise the divinity of Jesus.

I honestly believe people expect the Church to be different, to be able to offer what no other organisation can or does offer. Many men and women live lives under enormous pressure and long for something which will give them hope and encouragement to face life. If we just do what society does, then we are just another malfunctioning body with a slightly spiritual touch. We who have been ordained promised and vowed to teach only what is in Scripture and to try and order our lives so as to represent Christ. In the light of some activities that is not in any way a representation of our Lord.

I can remember the time when the Vicar was treated with respect and looked up to even by non Church people. The activities of some clergy are losing that respect.

The most popular programmes on television are those which look back on the world as it used to be. Perhaps the time might just have come when the Church should do the same and consider doing what the early Christians did, and devote themselves to the teaching of the

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