Monday, 4 March 2013

Dear Justin...

Canon Rosie Harper wrote a letter to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned by the BBC radio 4 Sunday Programme, 3rd March 2013:

Firstly, take good care of yourself and your family. Everyone will expect you to be superman, but it is God’s job to build her church, and she has called you to a specific role because of your particular gifts. Trust that calling- have the courage to be yourself. The more your role and your true self are aligned the greater the chance that the church will rediscover its own integrity.

So what about the mess?  The clock is ticking. We only have a little time left to reclaim our heritage as church for the whole nation. There is such a massive disconnect between our obsessions and the big needs and concerns of people in this country. Surely your first and most important task is to recast the church for everyone, not just for the various special interest groups within the institution. Be a real prophet.  Talk about the stuff that matters:

How can faith be good news in a recession?
What are the deep values about the way we use money?
How might we give a decent education to all our children?
How are we going to feed the world?
Can we take good care of our elderly?

People long to engage with that big stuff, but don’t think the church has anything to offer them.

Well  you can guess what I’m going to say next...

How can our society take us seriously when all they experience about us is so negative? The reaction when the women bishop’s vote failed in November showed starkly that it isn’t acceptable to discriminate against women.

Nor is it possible to have any credibility if the CofE continues to speak about gay people as if they were a problem.  The post-bag I’ve had from anti-gay Christians has been vomit inducing and utterly shameful. How can we prevent the church from becoming the last bastion for homophobia in our society?

These matters of justice and equality are surely make or break. Each of us stands fully equal before God and if we preach otherwise we have no gospel to proclaim. But if we get it right then we can become a church that is as much at home in the real world as Jesus was.  We need to be passionate about hope and transformation.

It’s going to take a major shift in thinking and behaving. Let’s be less defensive, less afraid of risk. Let’s be poetic and dream some dreams for the nation. Let’s have a bit of faith and commit to growth  and change. Not tomorrow. Today.

13 comments:

Jonathan Smith said...

Is it a mis-print, or did Canon Harper intentionally refer to God as female?

Anonymous said...

Once might be a misprint, but her and she suggests intent!

Anne Brooke said...

This is marvellous, thank you. How I long for the church to hear this message.

And it's my belief that our God has no gender - He/She is beyond that.

Anne Brooke
(AKA The Angry Anglican!)

Lay Anglicana said...

I doubt it is a mis-print, Jonathan. I am curious - do you believe God to have a gender, one way or the other? How very anthropomorphic!
Dame Julian of Norwich was the first I know of to write about the motherhood of God, not because she believed God to be a woman, but because thinking about the female aspects of the deity is to expand one's understanding.

Battersea Boy said...

I sincerely hope and pray that all Christians will help to break the culture of male dominance by using the female pronoun to describe our loving, forgiving, accepting heavenly mother.

Ian said...

I very much share Rosie's priotities but believe there are underlying theological issues also to be tackled. Anglicans are formed weekly in worship with predominantly male imagery, that perpetuates violent ideas about the death of Jesus satisfying God's wrath or dying to save us, which I believe, sanction violence in society, especially to children, women and gays.

Heidi said...

1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Men who dominate woman clearly cause horrendous harm; a cry which must be heard, but when a man is submitted to God and filled with His Holy spirit he will love as Christ loved the church (giving him self up for her). When women wake up to the beauty of submission and stop fighting the God created order men will be empowered with the grace of God to be all that they were created to be. Then you would not only talk about God having feminine quality's - you would experience it to the core of your being - and fat, frustrated and vexatious women would would blossom as flowers in fresh, spring rain; shining and vibrant in their calling and ministries as women to their children and to the flock, and weak, flabby, drippy men would become the prayer, praise and preaching warriors they are meant to be. Maybe then we could save the sinking ship of our nation. Forget mother earth (a Satanic deception no different to the New Age Gaia philosophy) and get with your Heavenly Father - everything else will then be added unto you, including all the gentleness and mothering qualities you ever needed to heal broken hearts and bind up wounds inflicted by those who asserted themselves over Gods ways and ideal.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Assuming the last comment not to be a wind-up by college friends, my problem is that some of the best prayer, praise and preaching warriors I know are women who are not the faintest bit fat frustrated or vexatious. The more a tiny minority in some churches wish they would go away the more they blossom as flowers in fresh, spring rain; shining and vibrant in their calling.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Rosie's letter is splendid. She hits all the right notes. I pray Archbishop Justin pays attention and sets the course to make the church Good News for all, including women and our LGTB brothers and sisters.

Jean Mayland said...

Rosie,

Thank you so much.I agree with everything you say.I hope AB Justine redas it and acts on it

Jean Mayland

Flora Alexander said...

Good stuff, Rosie. Thankyou!

Joseph Golightly said...

It isn't Christianity that's being preached but something quite new. Our Lord referred to "Our Father" and that's been good enough for the 2000 or so years after His Resurrection. To change that is to change the religion

David said...

Perhaps they dont like the idea of the Father's love. Men are also asked to be gentle, not living in the flesh but through the spirit - so it is not a female quality but a godly quality.

Love involves sacrifice and He asks us to do likewise. You have to see the sacrifice the Father also made at the cross in sending what was most precious to Him for Him to suffer at the hands of His people.

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