This week has been, in many ways a difficult week for the Church of England. I will state again that I am saddened by the vote in Synod concerning the consecration of women as bishops because I had hoped for the opposite result.
And then the other stuff started happening.
It seems that self-publicists and those with audiences have now started to toll the bell on my Church. They have pronounced my Church dead, or else as a lesser sect. They speak of the Church of my children, my family and many loved ones like some leprous spectre in the Christian existence. They have been like the football player who, having missed the penalty, complained that the goal was in the wrong place and that their kick was spot-on.
That woman will not yet be consecrated as bishops is an unpalatable truth which is causing much pain. That it is now the issue to eclipse all issues in the Church is also unpalatable to some of my parishioners. I think it is time for those who have audiences to get a grip. You, the self-publicists, are building a shoddy case for a church as dead upon the foundations created out of the real and visceral pain of those who truly believe that their gender is a sort of disease that blocks the Holy Spirit. Oddly, and with one less than surprising exception, I have read nothing from a woman as doom-laden as that which I have read by male self-proclaimed supporters of the cause.
The thing is, while we entertain ourselves with public whispering campaigns regarding the terminal condition of the Church of England, we forget that many more people are still keeping the faith. I do not expect one single person less this Sunday as a result of the vote. I am still booking funerals. I am still planning for the same optimistic future. I still expect to welcome all the kids back this week. My buildings have developed no subsidence and frankly, the idea that my beloved Church is dead is as offensive as it is wrong as it is damaging.
Will the vote kill the church? No. Will the self-publicists? Maybe. I am frustrated, I confess. I am frustrated because we seem to have publicly rolled-over. We have proclaimed not just a Church as dead but of a God who is seemingly impotent to win our case for us. We seem hell-bent to sell our words replete with sensational views that a human debate is bigger than God's purpose. How inward-looking we have suddenly become.
Do we not still have a job to do? I think we do, and so do the millions of faithful and still-optimistic Church of England Christians who are wondering why we are waging a suicide bid, media style!