Under pressure

There were so many great Queen songs. You hear one and memories flood back of when you heard it, or sang along to it. So one came to mind ‘Under pressure’ with the lines

Pressure pressing down on me
Pressing down on you, no man ask for
Under pressure that burns a building down
Splits a family in two
Puts people on streets

General Synod continues today and finishes’ today. It has been a short Group of Sessions and that is right given that we are operating remotely and managing it all on screens. Into the agenda we now get screen breaks. The pressure of looking at a screen is just too much. We need a break every so often. But it also means that there is a certain amount of ‘winging it’ and ‘making it up as we go along’. After all, this is only the second actual meeting of General Synod where decisions are being made in this remote way, and Standing Orders – which is the other Bible for the Synod – were not written with this in mind. So we are constantly tweaking how things happen. It makes life … interesting!

As I said Morning Prayer before leaving the Deanery for Church House Westminster this morning, I was struck by these words in the Benedictus, the Gospel Canticle that is at the heart of the morning Office, the Song of Zechariah from St Luke’s Gospel.

‘Free to worship him without fear’

It leapt out at me because of one of the debates yesterday. Most of the business to be honest, such as today’s, is around legislation or appointments – and all of that is vital to the good governance and functioning of the church. But in the midst of it all was a debate on International Religious Freedom. We know that that freedom is under threat in many places for many people and not just for Christians. Like all freedoms it comes with responsibilities, such as using that freedom to liberate and not oppress, to create justice and peace for all, to honour everyone and the whole of creation. Sadly, as we know one person’s freedom can become another person’s oppression. So whether we are talking about our Coptic sisters and brothers in Egypt, or the Uyghur peoples in China or the Rohingya peoples in Myanmar the same principle of which Zechariah sings is true, ‘Free to worship him without fear’ .

So it was good that within the pressure of Synod we remebered the pressure placed upon those who simply want to worship without fear.

God, as we rejoice in our freedom may we use it to free others to worship without fear. Amen.

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