Showing posts from March, 2017

Why can't we all just get along?

On a recent course with clergy of all different stripes, I got talking to a very Bible-based Evangelical priest about the recent furore over my predecessor at St Michael’s, Bishop Philip North. You have probably heard that he has turned down the nomination to become Bishop of Sheffield after pressure from campaigners in favour of the ordination of women, which Bishop North opposes as a matter of conscience.

The Evangelical priest told me that in his church, there was no problem with women being priests or deacons as such - but the church would not allow women to speak in public or to teach men. This is because they take very literally St Paul’s admonition in his first letter to the church in Corinth that women “should remain silent in churches,” and a passage in the Letter to Timothy (which may or may not have been written by St Paul) which reads “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”

I must admit that although I know there are churches, even in the Church of E…

Three questions for Lent

Only a few weeks ago, I witnessed first-hand something of the power of repentance.

There was a young man who could not handle the responsibility of bringing up the son he had unintentionally sired. So set was he on living a carefree life of drink, drugs and parties that he cut himself off from the mother and denied outright that the baby was his, despite the obvious resemblance - for fifteen years. That fifteenth year was the year his son died. He was stabbed to death, in some connection with gang crime. That was what it took for the man to realise what it means to be a father. Hew knew for the first time, in what he saw as the fatal consequence of his irresponsibility, the full weight of his sin. It pushed him to the verge of madness, and in his grief he prayed to God for forgiveness.

“Repentance” in the Bible means a change of heart, and that is what happened to this man. He turned from his dissolute lifestyle to Christ, and now spends his life visiting gaols, borstals, schools a…

Ash Wednesday

Give, pray, and fast are Our Lord’s clear instructions in the Gospel for Ash Wednesday (Matthew 6:1-6 & 16-18) - but with an important caveat. Give, pray, and fast, but not to draw attention to yourself, not because you want a reward. There are plenty of people in our church who give very generously, some of money, some of time, some of both. It’s worth remembering at this point that you may not know who they are, so if you are occasionally quick to criticise people who work behind the scenes, perhaps you might pause for thought. We all give something, and the onus on us in Lent is not to ask what other people are giving, but what more we can give ourselves. 

Prayer does not need to be done with great exuberance, arm-waving and rolling round in the aisles to prove to everyone how holy you are, but it does need to be done. And so Lent is not the only time we focus on prayer, but a reminder to put our entire prayer life back into order for the longer term. I have spoken before about t…