Tuesday, 18 November 2014

'And what is this glory of the Lord?'

Cruceiro (wayside cross) - Morquintian near Muxia (Galicia)

"Let us say to Christ: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the king of Israel. Let us hold before him like palm branches those final words inscribed above the cross. Let us show him honour, not with olive branches but with the splendour of merciful deeds to one another. Let us spread the thoughts and desires of our hearts under his feet like garments, so that entering us with the whole of his being, he may draw the whole of our being into himself and place the whole of his in us. Let us say to Zion in the words of the prophet: Have courage, daughter of Zion, do not be afraid. Behold, your king comes to you, humble and mounted on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.    He is coming who is everywhere present and pervades all things; he is coming to achieve in you his work of universal salvation. He is coming who came to call to repentance not the righteous but sinners, coming to recall those who have strayed into sin. Do not be afraid, then: God is in the midst of you, and you shall not be shaken.    Receive him with open, outstretched hands, for it was on his own hands that he sketched you. Receive him who laid your foundations on the palms of his hands. Receive him, for he took upon himself all that belongs to us except sin, to consume what is ours in what is his. Be glad, city of Zion, our mother, and fear not. Celebrate your feasts. Glorify him for his mercy, who has come to us in you. Rejoice exceedingly, daughter of Jerusalem, sing and leap for joy. Be enlightened, be enlightened, we cry to you, as holy Isaiah trumpeted, for the light has come to you and the glory of the Lord has risen over you.    What kind of light is this? It is that which enlightens every man coming into the world. It is the everlasting light, the timeless light revealed in time, the light manifested in the flesh although hidden by nature, the light that shone round the shepherds and guided the Magi. It is the light that was in the world from the beginning, through which the world was made, yet the world did not know it. It is that light which came to its own, and its own people did not receive it.    And what is this glory of the Lord? Clearly it is the cross on which Christ was glorified, he, the radiance of the Father’s glory, even as he said when he faced his passion: Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him, and will glorify him at once. The glory of which he speaks here is his lifting up on the cross, for Christ’s glory is his cross and his exultation upon it, as he plainly says: When I have been lifted up, I will draw all men to myself."

A Discourse of St Andrew of Crete - from today's Office of Readings 

Monday, 17 November 2014

'It will all be over by Christmas ...'

The Telegraph had this report in January - how true it has turned out to be in November:
"The first woman bishop in the Church of England could be appointed before the end of this year, the Church’s most senior official has disclosed.William Fittall, the Secretary General of the General Synod, said that under a new plan to speed the long-awaited legislation through, it is now possible that the first female members of the episcopate could be chosen by Christmas.If the fast-track scheme is approved by the Church’s General Synod next month, a change to canon law allowing women to become bishops and archbishops could receive final approval in July and come into force by November. He said that with a growing list of vacant sees, it is likely that “things could move quickly” once that happens. Although male clerics would still be considered for the posts, there is a “huge expectation” that some of those on a long list of “very eminently qualified people” previously excluded on grounds of gender would be appointed."
  'Although male clerics would still be considered for the posts ...' - it's really good to know that the Holy Spirit still has a minor, cameo, role to play in the midst of the raging sexual politics of today's liberal Anglicanism ....

Interestingly, the second report was notified to me by email; the next message was from a grocery site and headed, 'Meet our Christmas birds' .... 
So there is a sense of humour out there somewhere amidst the impending implosion of everything we hold dear ....

Beyond repair?

'Anglican Communion may be beyond repair, says Welby'

From the Archbishop of Canterbury's address to the Church of England's General Synod:

Despite the headline, it seems from the text of his address that the Archbishop doesn't really think so; or, if he does believe the Communion's divisions are irreparable,  he dare not say so ..... not in that forum, or perhaps nowhere beyond the confines of confidential discussions.
What he does say is that our divisions may be 'too much to manage' - now, that has clearly been the case for some time, although one might think the use of that rather ambiguous word 'manage' is itself neither particularly appropriate nor helpful ....  
Successive Archbishops of Canterbury have been trying to 'manage' the situation for almost as long as we can remember - the only serious attempt to address the divisions, the ill-fated Anglican Covenant, foundered on the deep-seated (and well-founded) suspicions of the Global South and the arrogance and irresponsibility of those who have risen so effortlessly (with a little help from their friends ...) to positions of leadership in the liberal 'West.'
"...We live in a community that exists, that is deeply engaged with its world almost everywhere, that is diverse and argumentative and fractured, but yet shows in so many places both known and unknown the power and love of Christ through His Spirit at work in our world. We live in a Communion which merits celebration and thanksgiving as well as prayer and repentance.
A flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion.
I do not want to sound triumphalist. There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality. There are areas of corruption, other areas where the power of the surrounding culture seems to overwhelm almost everyone at one point or another.
Our divisions may be too much to manage.
In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.
In an age of near instant communication, because the Communion exists, and is full of life, vigour and growth, of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and love for him, everything that one Province does echoes around the world. Every sermon or speech here is heard within minutes and analysed half to death. Every careless phrase in an interview is seen as a considered policy statement. And what is true of all Provinces is ten times more so for us, and especially us in this Synod. We never speak only to each other, and the weight of that responsibility, if we love each other and the world  as we should, must affect our actions and our words..."
Read it all here - our thanks to Anglican Ink for the report 

New Chairman of Forward in Faith elected

From the Forward in Faith website today  [here]

New Chairman of Forward in Faith

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract, has been elected unopposed as Chairman of Forward in Faith for a four-year term of office. He succeeds the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, whose term of office as Chairman ended at the meeting of the National Assembly held at St Alban's, Holborn, on Saturday 15 November 2014.
In his address to the National Assembly, the Bishop of Pontefract called on members of Forward in Faith to respond to the invitation and challenge to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. Catholic Anglicans, he said, needed to be open to, and engaged with, the rest of the Church of England. He called on the Catholic Movement to be 'tolerant of the diversity of views that exists among us' and to 'work harder at unity amongst ourselves'.
Bishop Tony's address may be read here:

Dr Lindsay Newcombe and the Revd Ross Northing were re-elected unopposed as Lay Vice-Chairman and Clerical Vice-Chairman respectively.

Elections were held for five places on the National Council of Forward in Faith. The successful candidates were: the Revd Philip Corbett, the Revd Ian McCormack, Prebendary David Houlding, the Revd Ian Brooks, and Mr Andrew Carter.

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bread of the world in mercy broken

Words by Bishop Heber, set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the first edition of the English Hymnal (1906) 
Sung by the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge directed by Richard Marlow (A Vaughan Williams Hymnal)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Metropolitan Hilarion in North America - follow-up on yesterday's post

Whatever you might think of them, he doesn't mince his words ... and there are                          important implications here, not just for TEC, but for Canterbury (and Llandaff?)                                   as well ...  isolation from the ecumenical mainstream will be hard to accept ... and                                   for the benefit of any Welsh (episcopal) readers, the international ecumenical                           mainstream does not mean the Welsh 'Free Churches'; and even under Pope                                   Francis, Rome's gaze will be directed to the East. One suspects the wilder                                         excesses of TEC's or Poorvoo's revisionism will not compensate indefinitely...
Metropolitan Hilarion Blasts Episcopal Church                                               and Western Liberals for Abandoning the Faith  
Russian Orthodox leader says any double standards with regard to Christian ethics is unacceptable. Leader praises Anglican Church in North America for upholding the Faith   
By David W. Virtue DD      www.virtueonline.org   
November 9, 2014   
A theologian and bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church lambasted The Episcopal Church for its "liberalization" and "deviation" from Holy Scripture,           at a USA forum of Christian leaders which included representatives of the Orthodox Church.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the   Patriarchate of Moscow said in a speech that by the end of the 20th century,       the relationship of the Moscow Patriarchate with many Christian communities      in the USA had encountered a serious crisis.
"It was caused by the liberalization of the moral teaching in these         communities, their deviation from the ethical norms laid down by Holy       Scripture of the New Testament common for us all. In 2003 the Russian   Orthodox Church had to suspend contacts with the Episcopal Church in the    USA due to the fact that it consecrated an open homosexual as a bishop."
At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Church remained open to contacts     with the North American confessions which have stayed faithful to the        traditions   of our dialogue and which are firmly committed to biblical           morality, in particular, with the Anglican Church in North America, as it has separated itself from the Episcopal Church because the Episcopal Church consecrated a practicing homosexual.
"The theme of morality may become one of the most important in our   cooperation. In today's pluralistic world, the processes of liberalization have   swept over some Christian communities. Many churches have diverted from biblical teaching too   far in this respect, even if this attitude is not endorsed         by the majority of these communities' members.
"The Russian Orthodox Church consistently states that for her any double standards with regard to Christian ethics or any experiments with the            ethical component of our faith are unacceptable.
"The so-called 'liberal theology' clearly conflicts with the apostolic heritage.."   
Read it all here 

'Morning Heroes' : Arthur Bliss

This morning the Mass of St Martin was followed at 11 a.m. 
by the Act of Remembrance at the village war memorial here in church ..

For Armistice Day: another reading of Wilfred Owen's 'Spring Offensive,' this time together with a setting of Robert Nichols' Dawn on the Somme,  forming part of the 'Symphony for orator, chorus and orchestra,'  Morning Heroes,  by Sir Arthur Bliss, who himself served with distinction both in the Royal Fusiliers and the Grenadier Guards during the Great War. 

This is the finale, Now, Trumpeter, for thy Close - Spring Offensive, Dawn on the Somme.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra, East London Chorus, Harlow Chorus and the Hertfordshire Chorus are conducted on this recording by Michael Kibblewhite. The Orator, or narrator, is Brian Blessed.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Meanwhile ...

In that 'wider Anglican world,'  ecumenical dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church seems to have been restarted. The caveat is that if it does get off the ground, this will not be an easy process, and it is important not to make premature claims for its importance, as some dioceses in ACNA at present still ordain women to the priesthood. But it is heartening to see at least the willingness on the part of the Russian Orthodox Church to open a process of rapprochement and dialogue with 'orthodox' Anglicans, the previous and longstanding ecumenical discussions with the 'official' Anglican Communion having become lost in the quicksands of our western provinces' accommodation with secularism and theological and ethical revisionism. 

Thanks to Anglican Ink for this story

Russian Orthodox meeting for ACNA leaders


Andrew Gross

On November 8, 2014 Archbishop Foley Beach met with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Department of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.
The meeting, welcomed by Metropolitan Hilarion at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, was an opportunity to meet Archbishop Beach, as well as continue the ecumenical dialogue between faithful Anglicans in North America and the Orthodox Churches.
Bishop Ray Sutton, Provincial Dean and Dean of Ecumenical Affairs was also present at the meeting, and was encouraged by the extension of ecumenical continuity, “Metropolitan Hilarion was with us when we met together for dialogue at Nashotah House in 2012, at which time he expressed a desire to continue Anglican/Orthodox dialogue through the Anglican Church in North America, and this meeting tonight with Archbishop Beach further encourages the strengthening of ties between the Anglican Church in North America and Orthodox churches in this part of the world.”
Archbishop Beach commented on the meeting, “Metropolitan Hilarion has spent no small amount of time with Anglicans around the world, and over the years he has been a prophetic voice calling the Anglican Church to remain true to the Christian faith in the face of an increasing propensity for cultural accommodation. The conversation tonight was a pleasure, and I look forward to finding the ways in which we might partner for the cause of the Gospel.”
During the meeting, Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America warmly invited Archbishop Beach to the Orthodox All-American Council meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2015.
Archpriest Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary remarked, “The re-birth of Anglican/Orthodox relations is now a reality with the official exchanges between the ACNA and the OCA and clearly now with the Russian Orthodox Church through the leadership of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. The historical significance of this meeting of Archbishop Beach with His Beatitude Tikhon of the OCA and Metropolitan Hilarion is truly significant as a sign of this refreshed dialogue.” 
Later in the evening Archbishop Beach and the Anglican bishops were invited to process in the ceremonies at which Metropolitan Hilarion received a doctorate in divinity (honoris causa) from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and presented a lecture on the relationship between Primacy and Conciliarity. 
As the various branches of the Orthodox Church prepare for an historic global gathering in 2016, the lecture highlighted the Russian Orthodox Church’s understanding of the conciliar nature of church councils.
Bishop Kevin Allen, head of the Anglican/Orthodox dialogue in North America and the Anglican Bishop of Cascadia noted the parallels with the GAFCON movement: “The Orthodox churches have always recognized the importance of conciliar leadership. The Ecumenical Patriarch is “Primus Inter Pares”  (the first among equals), having a role to play in gathering the Orthodox churches, but the ongoing work of the Church, centered on the Gospel, is done with collegiality and consensus.  This ancient model is also evident in the structure of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA).  As Chairman of the GFCA, Archbishop Wabukala has been faithful to call the Primates together at regular intervals, and once called together the Primates Council has worked to build consensus in a way that models Christian commitment, charity, and unity.” 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A shocked reaction

There has been a genuinely shocked and incredulous reaction to the text of the recent letter of the Church in Wales bishops [here
As public relations disasters go, its publication must rank fairly highly, and, one hopes, there is now considerable embarrassment on the part of  those bishops whose understanding of their vocation is, shall we say,  somewhat broader and not so blindly and wildly ideologically driven, or, indeed,  so lamentably and conspicuously lacking in any understanding of Anglicanism's history and complexities as that of the response's chief architect. 
Once the mask of tolerance has slipped in such a very public way, it is doubly difficult to regain the only authority which really matters .....

I will include parts of a message sent to me yesterday: it is interesting and significant because it comes from someone who is not opposed to the ordination of women, either as priests or bishops:

"......It was once said to me of the then Prefect of the CDF: ‘Ratzinger at least goes both ways,’ in that along with liberal extremes he suppressed the extremes of Pope John Paul II's Marian theology which seemed to push the boundaries of tradition too far.  
Selective authoritarianism is inequitable, theologically unsustainable and ultimately spiritually and intellectually bankrupt. 
The [Welsh] Bench appears now to be more hard-line even than TEC, and, as you say, presents a sorry contrast to the reality in the Church of England.  
They may also find themselves completely out on a limb because I understand it to be part of the Archbishop of Canterbury's agenda to (re)assert a far looser understanding of what we as Anglicans share and call 'Communion.'  If the Church of England declares itself to be in communion with one or more of the ‘breakaway’ episcopal groups in the USA (which I have heard is a distinct possibility), where will the Welsh bishops then stand?  They will have wilfully destroyed a family of faith, and they will find that the very people they have repudiated are able to be part of a separate Anglican province in communion with the ABC......  "

If there is genuine substance to these possible developments vis a vis the 'wider Anglicanism' (and there are widespread rumours - and more than rumours about ACNA's relationship with Canterbury  -  to that effect) then it is high time the Welsh Bench began to practise a genuine degree of collegiality - one which seeks to respect and include all traditions of Anglicanism in Wales - rather than the present bogus 'consensus' manipulated by that master 'liberal' puppeteer of them all  .... 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Welsh Bishops' letter - as promised

The response of the Welsh Bench to Credo Cymru's Chairman, Fr Alan Rabjohns, [see yesterday's post here] is printed below.  Our thanks to an anonymous correspondent. 

The content and tone of the letter represents a rather strange way in which to "hold out the hand of fellowship," or so one might think .... particularly given the fact that the present impasse could be so easily broken by the Bench's adoption of the more inclusive and eirenic policy of the Church of England. There would need to be delegated authority of some kind, but changed circumstances call for imagination and vision from those on both sides of this argument, rather than intransigence and a rigid adherence to a Constitution which  was designed for a more settled ecclesial climate in which the views of the present Bench concerning apostolic order would have been completely beyond the pale,  as, of course, remains the case in those other Churches which 'stand legitimately in any way within the catholic and apostolic tradition,' and whose ministry Anglicans have always claimed to share. 

But, that aside, could this perhaps not constitute the more 'moderated response' that the Bishops themselves are calling for - but have clearly 'overlooked' - a development which would at least go some way towards meeting the genuine needs and authentic concerns of their traditionalist flock?

This is the full text of the letter, signed by all six diocesan bishops: 
"Dear Alan, 
Thank you for sending to us the text of Credo Cymru’s response to the Code of Practice.  
As your Bishops, whom you have addressed as your Fathers in God, we have always been given to understand by you and the others who have met with us on behalf of Credo Cymru that your members reject any concept of “taint” which suggests that when we ordain women to sacred order we forfeit our catholic and apostolic character. This current response seems to suggest otherwise, namely that your members no longer accept us “as true pastors of their souls and as their link with continuing apostolicity.” 
As the Bishops of the Church in Wales, we believe that the apostolic tradition neither denies nor disproves the legitimacy of the ordination of women. We believe that we continue to share with you the substance of that tradition, and we continue to respect and welcome those who cannot accept such ordinations.  It is an extremely serious matter if those whom we seek to include cannot any longer reciprocate that fundamental respect and basic recognition.  This is especially so, given that, in every diocese, those who are members of Credo Cymru have demonstrated themselves until now to be in Communion with us as their bishops, and to accept a share in our cure as the foundation of their ministry.  
In continuing to hold out the hand of fellowship, we have to say, however, that the response as its stands raises fundamental questions about the place of those who now effectively seem to repudiate all the bishops of the Church in Wales as standing legitimately in any way within the catholic and apostolic tradition of the Church.  That being the case it is hard to see on what basis they can continue, with any integrity, both to serve in an ordained ministry which is founded upon sharing in our cure, and as representatives of the Church in Wales. If their view is followed through, it would also call into question the legitimacy of any bishop of any persuasion whom we might now ordain, “traditionalist” or otherwise. 
 We sincerely hope that a more moderated response can be developed which builds upon the faith we share.  However, we must state unequivocally that any attempt to approach another bishop in place of the diocesan to provide episcopal ministry would have very serious implications."

Wilfred Owen: 'Spring Offensive'

Read here by Sir Kenneth Branagh

Friday, 7 November 2014

The Lord giveth (in England) and taketh away (in Wales) ....

Some good news from the Church of England:  Fr Philip North, following the debacle of Whitby,  is to be the new Bishop of Burnley (a suffragan of Blackburn) it has been announced today [here]

Meanwhile in Wales, the Bench of Bishops has sent an ugly (if not threatening) letter in response to Credo Cymru's reflections on the Welsh Code of Practice.
It is strange how those whose inflexibility on this issue stands in clear and scandalous contrast to the position taken by the bishops of the Church of England can claim to be so hurt (and clearly threatened) by an unexceptional statement of the implications of catholic theology. 

The text of the Bishops' letter is now in the public domain; if anyone has a copy, I would be very grateful if they could send it to me (anonymously, of course, if necessary - such is the climate in parts of the Church in Wales at present) so it can be made available more widely ....

We must pray that counsels of goodwill and conciliation, which we have reason to believe do still exist on the Welsh Bench, will prevail before the 'Americanisation' of the province is complete.

Monday, 3 November 2014