You must forgive me. I have not been in the Chamber as much today as on other days. I have good excuses. The first obviously is that we were all in the Minster this morning, celebrating the Eucharist and listening to the Revd Jim Wallis who was encouraging us to change the conversation in the nation. Though the eucharist was rather longer than usual and Jim did begin his sermon by admitting that Americans can talk for a long time, it was food to be enlivened by a sermon. I came away from the scriptures – the gospel was the parable of the sower (now do we create soil rich for producing harvest for the common good) – excited and renewed. And the Missa Brevis from the pen of Jonathan Dove was fantastic!
I said earlier that the day was focused more on church. I focused today on two debates – the new texts for baptism and the debate on credit unions.
The texts for baptism are really important. Let us not kid ourselves. This is what we say as people – children and adults become part of the body of Christ, are washed clean from their sins, are born again. So how we describe sin. the world and the devil, how we describe following Christ, being a disciple, giving my life to him is fundamental. But texts are only texts. Christ is the divine Word spoken into creation but our words are but feeble echoes of the divine voice. We cannot get the words right because they cannot begin to get close to the truth which will ever remain indescribable, unutterable. This is why our Hebrew sisters and brothers do not say or write the name of God, because it is not possible. Neither is it possible to do justice to the profound truth we encounter in baptism.
Having said that we have to strive to do our best. But the presentation of the texts in the performance of the liturgy will bring the words off the page and make them live. That is why the guidelines for use that the Liturgical Commission are now producing are so important. We do not always know the best way to present the liturgy so that it is at its most missional, its most pastoral, its most eloquent in the deepest sense.
These additional texts have been passed to Revision stage but we hope that they emerge even better as they are very good.
The other debate was after a presentation by the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union. I have to confess that when I w as a vicar in east Leeds back in 1991 we talked about forming a credit union and nothing came of it. Nether I nor the congregation had the skills. So I welcomed this debate. It had just been announced that the CofE had disinvested from Wonga. This can be our positive response to that action and a real contribution to the common good. It begs many questions, not least the relationship to the more local credit unions in our areas. But given that at the moment only 1.5% of the adult population in 2013 were members of credit unions there are a great many people out there who could be. I look forward to more information.
There was a debate in the evening on finance and the Church Commissioners but the final of the World Cup was on. I am no sports fan and was appalling at any competitive sport but I had to watch. I’m sorry for Argentina but they do have Eva Perron to remember and Evita is a great show so life is not altogether bad – ever!
Lord, for all your blessings today,
Be with us as we seek to do you will,