Pew Sheet, November the 5th 2023 Kingdom Season 1 / All Saints Day
On Friday afternoon, I joined a great many other Anglicans from all sections of the Church of England in the meeting room atop the tower of Lambeth Palace Library. Amongst us, there were evangelicals and charismatics, Anglo-Catholics and liberal Catholics, low church, high church, and every persuasion of Anglican practice and belief in between those extremes, as well as a great many ‘de-churched’ people who have largely given up on the Church of England as an institution, though not on God to put it to rights again.
We met together with one purpose. To speak directly to Archbishop Justin in truth and love about the way in which the Living in Love and Faith process has been managed in recent months, and the appallingly dismissive document which has been released by the Church ahead of General Synod which meets in just a little over one week’s time. Despite promises made by the Archbishops of York and Canterbury in February that this document would herald a ‘radical new inclusion’ for LGBTQI+ people in the Church, General Synod Document 2328 kicks into the long grass once again, the decision which Synod took this February to approve prayers of blessing and services of blessing for LGBTQI+ people in Anglican churches after a civil marriage; and to remove the bar on LGBTQI+ clergy getting married at all, even in a registry office, which is currently illegal because of amendments the Bishops themselves introduced into Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act as it passed through Parliament in 2013.
What might this have to do with All Saints Day you may be asking yourselves? Well; the more observant of you may have noticed that many evangelical churches and organisations were amongst those present to remonstrate with the archbishop about his ill-fated decision yesterday, which is the whole point. In the midst of an argument which so easily becomes polarised, we can forget that the labels we ascribe to each other as God’s saints here on earth lack any eternal specificity and will be totally meaningless when we stand before Christ the King. The evangelicals present were no less angry than we were, and fully support the radical inclusion of LGBTQI+ people in Church. They outnumber perhaps, their noisier and more assertive colleagues, and teach us that we do not get to choose those we shall spend eternity with; and that many we might regard as opponents can, in fact, be our friends. God IS building his kingdom though his saints here on earth, and that kingdom of peace and justice WILL prevail in the end!
Merciful God, God of holiness,
Your Glory is proclaimed in every age: As we rejoice in the faith of your saints, Inspire us to follow their example
With boldness and joy;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, singing, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! Amen.’
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘Sir, you are the one that knows.’ Then he said to me, ‘These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason, they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’
I will bless the LORD at all times.
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant, so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.
O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.
O fear the LORD, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.
The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
1 John 3:1-3
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Please pray this week for:
All those who labour under the strain of oppression and injustice. For those trapped in unhealthy relationships and unrewarding occupations. Pray for those who face intimidation and violence; and pray for the liberation of all God’s saints both here and abroad, in the Church, and those outside of it.
This Week’s Events
Today (November 5th)
In Loving Memory Service, 4pm in St Laurence’s.
Monday (William Temple, Archbishop and Teacher of the Faith, 1944)
Bell ringing at 7.30pm in St Laurence. Contact Jan on 07835 461361. Julian Prayer Group 8pm St Mary’s Addington. Wrap up warm and bring a torch or join on Zoom. Meeting ID: 996 4332 0665 and password: Julian.
Tuesday (Willibrord of York, Apostle of Frisia, 739)
Zoom In Morning Prayer on Tuesday at 9am. Meeting ID: 748 9970 4493 Password: Trinity or contact Didier on [email protected]
Evening House Group contact Jo on 07803 942 687 for more information. Wednesday (The Saints and Martyrs of England)
Morning Coffee from 10.00-11.45 in the St Laurence Room. Midday Communion at 12 noon in St Laurence Church.
Mother’s Union Meeting, 2.15 pm SLR, contact Angela on 714 678. Thursday (Margery Kemp, Mystic c.1440)
In Touch Discussion Group at 2pm. Contact Anne on 714 330.
Friday (Pope Leo the Great, Teacher of the Faith, 461)
Junior Choir at 6.30 pm followed by full Choir Practice at 7.30pm. Do contact Derry on [email protected] if you would like to join in this term.
November 13th The Book Group will be discussing ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ by John Irving at 6.45pm. Contact Didier for details: [email protected]
November 16th Study Day with Canon Alan looking at 9 ways of seeing the world. November 18th Quiz at 6.45pm in Winslow Public Hall to raise funds for St Laurence Church. Speak to Judy, 01296 715 484 to book.
Please call: 07305 271 148 or email: [email protected]