A heady mix

A new series of ‘Bake Off’ is fast approaching and I have to make the decision of whether I remain ‘Mr Bake Off Shocked of Southwark’ at its move from the BBC or bite the bullet and watch it.  No doubt I’ll watch it! I have, after all, loved the way in which the contestants take such imaginative ingredients and combine them into something fantastic. It’s something I just don’t have the imagination or the confidence to do.  Will these flavours work together?  Will this be edible?

the_vicar_of_dibley_cropley

The Queen of Cordon Bleurgh

 

The most memorable fictional character for this kind of approach to food must be Letitia Cropley in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ played by the late great Liz Smith.  She was famous for being “the queen of Cordon Bleurgh”,  famous for her idiosyncratic recipes such as parsnip brownies and lard and fish paste pancakes.

The first day at Synod is normally made up of the same ingredients:  a welcome to someone who is visiting – well, we had that when we had a Finnish bishop from the Lutheran Church of the country, Bishop Matti Repo; the report of the Business Committee – of course; a bit of tidying up legislative business – yes, the Amending Canon about Vesture of Ministers; Questions – definitely and with yours truly chairing (48 out of 85 questions in an hour was not bad going, though I say it myself who shouldn’t); and something else.

The something else was rather larger and more significant than is usual.  The Presidents had decided to include a debate on the situation in the nation after the General Election.  The title of the Motion, in the name of the Archbishop of York, was ‘After the General Election, a still small voice of calm.’ As I said earlier, the quote is from the wonderful hymn.  The Motion itself encompassed voter apathy, those elected to Parliament; courage for political leaders; calling on Christians to maintain pressure on politicians; commending the work of the church on behalf of the poor and vulnerable and committing the CofE to strong and generous international relations.  Wow! That is some list, a real heady mix of church and politics, religion and politics.

Five amendments were on the Order Paper and, as if that were not enough, the Archbishop of York even had a sixth one up his sleeve.  Some wanted the Bible mentioned, others were in favour of STV voting and 16 year olds getting the vote, others wanted a referendum for the Scottish people, another a whole raft of stuff about abortion, family life, biblical based speech and another about making it clear that Jesus is ‘King of Kings, the Prince of Peace and the Hope of every nation.’ The Archbishop wanted us to vote to voluntarily pay more tax to the Exchequer for schools, medicine and social care. None of those were accepted, all were rejected however worthy and the unamended Motion, after two hours of debate, was passed.

Commons

Parliament – a place to engage with

 

But all of this was in the context and shadow of Tim Farron resigning as Leader of the Liberal Democrats after the General Election.  In his resignation statement he is reported as having said

“The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader….To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

I found that very sad and very unsettling.  As a Christian who believes in the incarnation I have to see my faith as being lived out in the world in all its messiness and within all its compromises.  That is one of the things I love about Southwark and its Cathedral – we can talk honestly about politics because we know that we encounter God, the Gospel, Jesus Christ, our faith in that wonderful messy mix.  I have to believe that otherwise faith becomes a private, privatised world and I don’t think that is why ‘the Word was made flesh’ (John 1.14).

Archbishop William Temple, looking at the place of the Church of England in British society, famously said

The Church is the only society that exists for the benefit of those who are not its members.

That means being involved in life beyond the walls of the church and mixing in with society and that is why Christians have to be involved in politics and even party politics at every level.  It isn’t an option, it’s what our vocation is.

The debate this afternoon, even though it was too broad, too anodyne, too much ‘motherhood and apple pie’, at least acknowledged that we have a place in our society, values about how life should be lived, opinions about the role of politics and a commitment to the common good.  In the mess we are currently in it was much better than nothing.

God, you entered the mess of world,
guide us as we engage in that messiness.
Amen.

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A Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage 2017

sabbaticalthoughtsblog.wordpress.com/

Canda, Jerusalem, Mucknall

Southwark Diocesan Pilgrimage 2016

Hearts on Fire - Pilgrims in the Holy Land

A good city for all

A good city for all

In the Steps of St Paul

Southwark Cathedral Pilgrimage June 2015

LIVING GOD

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