An exciting development this week – though unfortunately not in our denomination! You’ll have seen on last night’s news that Anglicans in New Zealand have moved towards allowing blessing of same sex marriages. http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/news/general_synod/yes This link to the Anglican website was sent through by Paul Barber, who says “Every whiff of progress needs to be celebrated!”
Apart from general homophobia and confusion over bible interpretation, the Anglican situation is nuanced by the question of liturgy. As I understand it, an Anglican priest takes a vow on ordination that they will only use liturgy approved by the church. So, one of the difficulties in allowing same sex blessings or marriages was the lack of a church-approved liturgy. Now that blessings of same sex couples who have married elsewhere is allowed, I assume liturgies for those blessings will be produced. As Rev Helen Jacobi of St Matthews in the City said on television last night, blessings for marriages are only part of the development which is needed. Many will continue to work for same sex marriages being celebrated by Anglican priests. It is a small step for gay couples, but a step.
In our own denomination, the ban on ministers performing same sex marriages is still in place! In March the Council of Assembly considered my letter sent on behalf of St Andrew’s Parish Council arguing this ban was invalid as it contradicts other statements in our church law. I was informed at the time the letter raised a valid argument. It has been referred to the Book of Order and Doctrine Workgroups. What, if anything, will be brought to Assembly this year on this matter?
It’s a grey day outside today. Writing about this tiny (though significant) step in the Anglican church and about slow, stately Presbyterian processes of deliberation in response to a letter, seems to echo the greyness of the weather. One of the distinctive ‘brands’ of the rainbow community is colour. ALL the colours. ‘Coming out’ suggests emergence from a dark closet into sunlight. I think Jesus’ way was more sunlight than darkness, more colour than greyness. Though the shadow side of life was integrated into what he taught, some of his most enigmatic sayings were actually puns and jokes – we’re just not Jewish enough or ancient enough to understand them. Jesus may well have laughed a lot more than we think. Sometimes he is called the Clown of God – not that he was only figure of frivolity and fun – but that he exposed the truth like a good clown does. He finds the sadness inside those resisting change, or the grief inside those pretending all is fine, or the sense of the ridiculous lurking behind solemn exteriors. I wonder what Jesus, Clown of God, would think of our mealy-mouthed, straight responses to the gay effusion of colour we are being offered in our world. What are we afraid of? He offered the antidote: “Perfect Love casts out fear”.
For a long time, fear of Big Competition has governed economic markets. It seemed “there was no alternative”. But, as far back as 1946, fair traded goods were sold in the USA and the first US fair trade shop opened 1958. In 2003 the NZ and Australia Fairtrade organisation started with the first accreditation of stores happening in 2011. Growth has been steady since then. The unimaginable has happened, goods can be sold AND indigenous famers get adequate payback for their work. Over all this time people have STOOD 4 FAIRNESS. Remember this Sunday to bring your symbol of ‘4’ to join with everyone else in celebrating the 2018 Worldwide FairTrade Challenge. AND, buy some Fairtrade products this week because that’s the point! Our churches may still be being mealy mouthed about rainbow issues, at least let’s be generous on Fairtrade issues.
See you Sunday at church. We will celebrate Mothers’ Day and finish the series on Emerging Church by reflecting on ‘Including and Becoming’. Also, the monthly congregational conversation will follow. It’s a busy day! See you there.
To view the full e-news click on this link: https://mailchi.mp/89ff22cbbf45/this-weeks-newsletter-from-st-andrews-on-the-terrace-1390445