A church where everyone has a part to play
Within the church, we contribute within our structures; and in terms of structure, the Church of England is somewhat unique!
The official line is this:
We are episcopally led but synodically governed!
That’s a mouthful. It means we are led by our clergy and governed by our church councils, whether it be the Warfield local church council, our deanery synods, our diocesan synod, or General Synod that looks after the national church.
I was! It took me quite a few years of thought and frustration before I eventually got it. How can one group lead and another group govern I puzzled? And then the penny dropped! I realised that our structures have been deliberately designed with tension in them. At least there’s supposed to be tension in them. The previous Bishop of Oxford Richard Harries defined Deanery Synod as a bunch of Anglicans waiting to go home! Norman Russell (Archdeacon of Berkshire) and leader of General Synod asked at a recent Diocesan Synod:
"Why do we simply acquiesce to everything at the moment?
What has happened to impassioned debate?"
It’s true. Our synods have become bland. Nobody wants to challenge anymore. Wonderful you say! Harmony at last! But I say that system means that our vicars and bishops will reap the counsel of mediocrity.
There's an interesting story in 1 Kings 12. It is the account of Solomon's son Rehoboam becoming King. And he gathers the people together, and the people say to him:
Your father placed a heavy burden on us. Lessen it and we will serve you.
So Rehoboam takes advise. He asks his father's advisors (remember that Solomon was the wisest king who ever lived, so his advisors were probably sharp individuals). They advised Rehoboam to listen to the people and lighten their burdens. But he wasn't happy with this, so he also asked the young men he grew up with ... the ones who were the same age as him, who thought like him, the ones who would give him the answer he wanted to hear. And they did:
Tell the people, my father gave you a heavy burden, I will double it, my father whipped you with ropes, I will whip you with scorpions.
Rehoboam announced to the people the advice his 'friends' had given him. The result was the people refused to be governed by him and returned to their homes refusing to paying taxes! He had reaped the council of mediocrity. It is important that we have people around us who don't always think like us.
There are organisations where everyone thinks the same, and we have a special name for those organisations. We call them cults!
THE NATURAL BODY IS DEPENDENT ON TENSION. MUSCLES DO NOT DEVELOP WITHOUT TENSION.
But why don’t more people speak up?
Because they don’t believe their opinion is valid? Maybe.
Because they don’t feel they’re articulate enough? It's possible.
What you think is important
What you say is important
You are a significant part of the body of Christ
And far too significant to remain silent and inactive
This is about all of us working together to communicate Jesus to a world that doesn't know him, that has never met him.
A story is told of a man who loved old books. He met an acquaintance who had just thrown away a Bible that had been stored in the attic of his ancestral home for generations. “I couldn’t read it,” the friend explained. “Somebody named Guten-something had printed it.” “Not Gutenberg!” the book lover exclaimed in horror.
“That Bible was one of the first books ever printed. Why, a copy just sold for over two million dollars!”
His friend was unimpressed. “Mine wouldn’t have brought a dollar. Some fellow named Martin Luther had scribbled all over it in German.”
You are a genuine masterpiece, one of a kind, unique, priceless and the King of the universe scribbled in DNA and made you to be who you are...