Churches are always messy and frustrating places. That’s why domestic violence within the church is always an issue. That’s why – or I think that’s why – we had a major session on it in searing heat in the Big Top two days ago. I have no idea whether it was either necessary or helpful. I know that I felt both manipulated and stigmatised – quite enough to be going on with for one morning. And the Stewards were keeping a tally of the number of men who left.
But – to go back to the messy and frustrating stuff of the Church. I agree with the other bloggers who have been saying that new understandings have been emerging here. I’ve heard them in my Bible Study Group and Indaba Group. The Bible Study has gathered a clear sense that prayerful reading and study of scripture in the context of trusting relationships will yield new strands of insight to lead us forward.
We’ve explored the tension between definition and imagination. I feel in many places a growing feeling that the excursion towards covenant territory has been useful but will not yield an answer. Indeed it may hinder the kind of explorations which are needed. It will ensure that our focus is on the internal workings of the church when it needs to be exactly the opposite of that. If we are going to have a Covenant, I remain attracted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ suggestion that it should be a Covenant of Faith predicated on difference.
The session today called in response to Archbishop Rowan’s call for generous suggestions from those holding the two positions he outlined in his address proved to be a serious mistake. I heard no suggestions of any great value and, as a result, the meeting became tetchy. I still think that something can be done here – but there needs to be a roadmap of symbolic words and actions which allow the two groups to move towards one another.
Three days to go. Counselling sessions are under way to help those of us who have become completely institutionalised and fear that we may not be able to cope with the traffic noise. And we have to move the beds back. The Management, thankfully, ran the white pyjamas up the flagpole some time ago.