You will read elsewhere in today’s Bulletin of the continuing invitation to be engaged with ‘Living in Love and Faith’ the teaching document which as Bishops we have prepared about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage. It is an invitation to help the Church, to which we all belong, discern how we respond to what is, along with the climate and justice, one of the key defining challenges of our generation. It’s an invitation to each of us to help the Church reflect on how we share the love of God and how we work for the coming of the Kingdom as we seek to follow Christ.
By its very nature, Living in Love and Faith is not easy. It does not set out any plans for changes in policy or practice but rather seeks with accompanying insight from the scriptures, the traditions of our faith, science, our developing culture to help us discern the leading of the Spirit and from this to decide, as we must, if and how we should change.
It might be that you look at this and think this is too hard for me, I don’t have the knowledge or the skill, I would feel out of my depth. I beg you please think again. The only ‘skill’ that is needed is curiosity with some courage to engage, and to quote Bishop Rachel the confidence to know that ‘no question is too stupid’.
With these ‘skills’ we can, I am confident, as a Church be open to what the Spirit is saying to us, provided we add just two things. The first, fundamental for me, is to acknowledge that in having this discussion these are not abstract ideas but about the reality of our lives, the lives of our family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, and indeed fellow members of The Church. A fundamental principle of our faith is the dignity that we apply to every human being without exception as made in the image of God, loved by God, one for whom Christ died and rose again. The second, whatever our starting point in entering these discussions is to acknowledge that we may, as Oliver Cromwell once suggested to the Church in Scotland be wrong!
There is but one who holds the whole truth who is God, and that’s not us! The scriptures are filled with those who in their encounter with God and God’s people had their vision of human identity challenged and changed, Moses, Abraham and Isaac, Cyrus, Paul, and of course above all those who encountered Jesus in the Gospels, the Syrophoenician Woman who challenged Jesus, the disciples who so often struggle to understand.
Being a disciple of Jesus is an adventure, it can unsettle, challenge, disturb us but always leads to life.
Might you make this a part of your adventure in these coming months and in doing so help shape the life of the Church of which we are a part.