Bishops’ Report on Marriage & Same Sex Relationships

St Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

I write this letter just days after the decision by the General Synod of the Church of England not to ‘take note’ of the Bishops’ report ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships’.

Elsewhere in this edition of ‘Gateway’ you will find the text of a letter issued, jointly, by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York almost immediately after the decision was taken. It gives information about the proposed way forward in this long journey of discovery. Please do read it and recognise the enormity of the task of trying to seek consensus.

(Note: this letter originally appeared in the March 2017 edition of our parish magazine, ‘Gateway’, along with the text of the Archbishops’ letter. To read this online, please visit the Diocesan website, where it appears along with an introduction by Bishop Christine)

Doubtless every shade of opinion on this subject will be represented in a town with as wide and diverse a population as Alnwick and, in this short letter, it would be impossible to capture every nuance of the arguments for and against and so I don’t intend to try.

Rather, I would urge all of us to do two things: one quite specific and the other, as Lent begins, rather more general.

Firstly, let us not sweep this issue to one side but, instead, let us pray – regularly and earnestly – for all who are involved in the decision-making process: the bishops and the lay and ordained members of the General Synod as well as those whose lives are, or could be, dramatically affected by the final outcome. (We should, of course, also hold our own Bishop Christine particularly in our prayers as she leads the newly-established Pastoral Oversight group referred to by the Archbishops in their letter.)

Secondly, I want to draw your attention to the sentence which the Archbishops see as the basis of a way forward: ‘The way forward needs to be about love, joy, and celebration of our common humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.’

As we begin the season of Lent and, I hope, engage in many of the particular things which will be happening at St Michael’s, let all of what we do and think and say recognise that way forward – not only for a process of legislation on the issue of human relationships but for the whole of our life in Christ.

If Lent is about growing in faith, in making progress in our own spiritual lives and in broadening our understanding of who we are in Christ, then let us take those words from our Archbishops as a ‘way forward’ both individually and as a Christian community here in Alnwick.

At the risk of being predictable, I want to share with you once again words that many of you know to be at the heart of my own understanding of the God who loves us – all of us, without exception, without exclusion – so much that he sent his Son to be among us, to die for us and to rise again so that we might have life in all its fullness:

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice which is more than liberty.
For the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind
and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own
and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he would not own.

With every blessing,

Paul

This entry was posted in blog. Bookmark the permalink.