I love Christmas, but …

I love Christmas. But I often feel that the Christmas I love and the Christmas I celebrate do not always seem to be the same thing … and I don’t think that I’m alone in this.

The Christmas I celebrate has two main features – Church and family. That’s good. That’s a big part of what I love.

Nativity_CD_Reredos
Detail from the Reredos in St Mary’s Church, Chilthorne Domer

I love exchanging presents. I love Christmas dinner – with all the trimmings. I love the tree, the crib, the cards (well, most of them, anyway). I love the traditions. Continue reading “I love Christmas, but …”

What shall we do with all these Churches?

St_Gargoyles1On Friday in the Guardian Giles Fraser wrote in his Loose Canon column that the Church of England needed many fewer Churches. He suggested that if the Church of England were in a position to spend less time, energy and money on maintaining its many thousands of ancient beautiful and loved parish churches it would be able to give more time and attention to its most important work – proclaiming the gospel. He said that we need someone to do the same job for the Church of England as Lord Beeching had done for the railways in the 1960s.

By coincidence, in the Church Times on the same day, there was a report of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury preaching at the consecration of a new chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary in the United States, their old chapel having burnt down in 2010. Here the Archbishop posed the question, “Why is it that we are so addicted to buildings?” He said that sometimes the buildings are the servants of the Church and at others they are the Church’s “tyrants.” Continue reading “What shall we do with all these Churches?”

Required – the Wisdom of Solomon

The Anglican Communion is in crisis. That’s not really news, it’s been in crisis for many years.

The Anglican Communion is a grouping of national and regional churches which are in full communiCompassroseon with the Church of England. It grew out of the the British Empire as the Church of England sent, first, missionaries and then bishops to establish outposts throughout the empire. Those new churches eventually became autonomous and, modelling themselves on the Church of England and their worship on the Book of Common Prayer. It is often claimed that the Anglican Communion came into existence with the ordination of Samuel Seabury as the first Bishop of what is now the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA). The first Lambeth Conference (the meetings of the Anglican Bishops from around the world) was in 1867. The ties that bind these churches together are loose and born largely of mutual respect and a broad agreement on matters of doctrine. Traditionally the Anglican Communion has treasured its Union in Diversity bound only by it’s four Instruments of Communion: Continue reading “Required – the Wisdom of Solomon”

My Father was a Wandering Aramean

My father was a wandering Aramean (Deuteronomy 26.5). These words are a reference to Jacob. His grandfather Abraham lived a nomadic lifestyle. He drove sheep and wandered from place to place, setting up camp where he found good pasture. Sometimes he stayed for a short tRefugees_on_a_boatime and sometimes he remained for weeks, months or even years. But nowhere did he settle long enough to call it home. His son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (who was renamed Israel) lived this same nomadic lifestyle. In this way they accumulated great wealth but called nowhere home.

But they travelled always with a promise. God had made a covenant with Abraham in which he promised that Abraham would be the father of nations (it’s what his name means) and that God would provide him with a homeland and that his descendants would become a people beyond counting and a blessing to the world. Continue reading “My Father was a Wandering Aramean”

In Raptures

The fact that you’re reading this suggests that the “Rapture” did not take place as scheduled on 21st May. But then, I don’t suppose that you thought it would. Neither did I.

The whole idea of the rapture grows out of a particular way of reading the bible. The idea that scripture can be read in such a way as to make it possible to predict the date of the Second Coming requires an especially literal understanding of the text.

Such an understanding of scripture is remarkably modern. Certainly those who wrote the books of the bible would be surprised, and perhaps a little amused, that people would try to make sense of the stories in this way. Of course, believing that things are either literally true or untrue is very modern way of looking at things. And today we are not used to handling texts that give what look to us like factual accounts of events as if there might be a different way of understanding them. We may still like metaphors as a literary device in a piece of descriptive writing or in a poem but we are not at all comfortable with an extended text which we need to understand metaphorically. And so we fall into the trap of interpreting the bible as if its reliability were simply a case of black or white. Continue reading “In Raptures”

Welcome to exultemus!

Welcome to exultemus. Through this blog I hope to give air to my thoughts about the world as seen through the eyes of faith.

I have been a priest in the Church of England for over thirty years and am Priest-in-charge of five parishes in South Somerset.

You are welcome to leave comments agreeing or disagreeing, but I reserve the right to remove any offensive or unnecessarily personal remarks. I may respond – if your comments seem likely to start an interesting debate.