The beautiful game

So, Synod begins. The good news is that there is ‘heat reduction’ equipment in the Synod Chamber. This is different to air conditioning so I’m told. All I know is that it is cooler than usual. But then we have been known to produce a lot of hot air!

It was great to chair the first debate which, after welcomes and some addresses by visiting Primates from the Communion and one from an ecumenical guest from Germany, was on the Report of the Business Committee. It’s a game. The chair of the Committee introduces the report and then people get up to moan that their particular top topic isn’t getting an airing.

But there was a game changer! Sue Boyes, the chair, announced that the timings for the seminars on Saturday afternoon were being amended to allow people to watch THE match. General rejoicing ensued. But then we got back into the real game.

The political football is of course human sexuality and where we are going on this. There is no debate on the floor of Synod in this Group of Sessions on this topic. But the seminars that bookend THE match will bring people up to speed.

Sadly, I’m not in York tomorrow as I have the double joy of being at the ordination to the priesthood of our curate in the morning and then walking with members of our Southwark Cathedral community in London Pride. I was being sent photos in the afternoon of the rainbow flag flying from our tower – a flag of pride for LGBTQI+ people and all their supporters. So I will have to wait until Sunday to discover how Saturday in Synod went.

The first day of General Synod always concludes with Questions. It’s a bit of a game to be honest. Supplementaries are asked to really hold feet to the flame. But this is Synod members’ only chance to really find out what is going on. There were 85 questions to be answered and many were around safeguarding. It is great to see people, to see the church, really holding itself to account and members asking, frankly, uncomfortable questions. It may look like a game but it isn’t.

Whether the subject is safeguarding or gay rights the lives of our sisters and brothers, their, our, safety and mental health and sense of self worth is what is being discussed. This is not a game. As Bill Shankley said of football ‘ Some people think that football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more important than that.’

Jesus didn’t treat life as a game and humanity as a can to be kicked down the road as someone in Synod accused the church of treating sexuality. Instead he said

I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.’ (John 10.10)

Abundant life – something we should have pride in for the whole of humanity.

God of life, may we rejoice and live in the abundant life which is your gift. Amen.

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