Precious oil poured out

My Sermon at the Chrism Mass

IMG_20190418_130447

I am glad to be here – not just in the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday but here in the Diocese of London – am I am grateful to have journeyed with you.  I know that is has meant change not just for me but also you.  However, despite what the Diocesan directory may indicate no we have not subsumed the Edmonton Area into Kensington – not that much has changed!

Today our service is about ministry and about our re commitment to follow Christ Jesus – the renewal of ordination vows and the blessing of oils for the anointing of the sick and dying, for the signing of the cross at baptism, and the oil of chrism.

I thank God daily for the ministry with which we have been entrusted and I want to thank you for the ministry we share and to which you have committed yourself – thankyou.

Like some of you, I had never heard of the Chrism Mass growing up. But I have come to love the Chrism Mass.  It is the one time of the year which brings together not only members of many of our parishes, but also those from the Diocesan Offices, licenced lay ministers, priests and deacons.  The oils we bless today will be used throughout the diocese in the sacraments which build up, heal and strengthen the Body of Christ.  The Chrism Mass is a beautiful sign of our unity and communion in Christ.

Oil has been used from ancient times for healing and for strength.  The Oil of Chrism has a strong, sweet-smelling essence which is an apt sign for the giving of the Holy Spirit.  Oil pervades things; it soaks in and remains.

Our readings remind us that anointing with oil is to be set apart. Jacob anoints a pillar of stone on which he rested his head and dreamed of the ladder climbing into heaven.

As the people passed through the Red Sea and came to Mount Sinai Aaron and his sons are anointed with oil, thereby setting them apart for holy service to the Lord.

Later Hannah in her prayer looks for the day in which a king will sit on the throne of Israel, and he will be God’s “anointed,” his messiah.

The anointed one is the chosen one. God chose Saul to be the first king, and he chose David to be the second king. He chooses the lineage of David to be on the throne, and even many of the kings of the northern kingdom are chosen by him. Then a messiah – an anointed one – the one who is consecrated, as is a priest, for holy service. He is one chosen, as is a king, by God to serve God’s purposes.

And Jesus opening the scriptures read;

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

Today we are reminded in our Eucharist service that it is though Christ broken body and blood which was shed that are able to give thanks that we are worthy to stand in God’s presences to serve him.

And we are anointed for his service – oil to remind us of our baptism, oil to remind us of healing, oil to remind us of our ordination and of our consecration and oil which will be used at our death.

I know the cost of ministry and we can only renew our commitment to our call if our lives are rooted in and refreshed by the love of God in Christ Jesus. Today as you stand in God’s presence receive from him the oil of gladness, a garland instead of ashes and the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit be renewed in the Holy Spirit and be equipped for ministry.

At my installation nearly a year ago Psalm 133 was wonderfully set to music and when the psalmist speaks of the precious oil poured on the head of Aaron’s they speak of it running down, down upon his beard, down up his collar of his robes. This precious and expensive oil was not just sprinkled on the top of the head, it was a real soaking and because of the ingredients, myrrh, cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia and olive oil (exodus 30:23-25) the recipient was left surrounded by an exquisite aroma.

Let us allow God not just to sprinkle us with his spirit but to anoint us allowing the oil to soak us and let us pray that it aroma will remain with us in the days and weeks ahead.

And to what are we set apart for at our anointing? To build up the ancient ruins, to repair the ruined cities, to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, to comfort all who mourn. To give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

All of which at this time takes on a renewed meaning in a city where division seems to be growing, where the blood of young children continue run on our streets because of violent crime, where those who have travelled to be part of our community feel unwelcome, where those sleeping on our streets continue to grow in numbers and invisibility.

Let us pray that over the coming months that we may know what it is that God is calling us to as the Diocese of London as we listen to God and listen to London.

Our ministry should reflect the act of Mary, who poured oil out over Jesus’ feet which years later John remembers as the fragrance filled the room; counter cultural, extravagant, an act of intimate love which is costly and the fragrance of which is remembered.

Let us this Maundy Thursday as we commit ourselves to God’s service pray for his anointing poured out over us and let us pray that we may anoint others in his service and to his glory.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

To follow Christ is to love our neighbour

My sermon preached on the 24th March 2019 at the Berlinerdom

Guten Morgan

It is a honour to be here in Berlin and to bring greetings from our Diocese of London.

London is both an ancient city, established by the Romans, and a thriving, modern capital with a prominent place on the world stage.  Like Berlin it is a world facing city which is multi-cultural and multi faith, it is both cosmopolitan and suburban, economically successful and confident. It is a city of energy and diversity – London is open to all.

But it is also a city of inequality and deprivation. The Capital is home to more multi-millionaires than any other city in the world, but it is also home to some of the most economically deprived citizens in the UK.

And this year, we find ourselves in turbulent times. The ongoing discussions around Brexit mean that many of us are living with a profound feeling of uncertainty. Deep divisions in our society have been exposed, and now we are faced with an ongoing political process which risks deepening them still further.

There have been few others in our lifetime which have been more polarising, or unsettling.  But, of course, division is not new. Historically, we have found ourselves to have unbearable, seemingly irreconcilable, differences before, and no doubt we will again.  These divisions have their route in questions of meaning, belonging and identity.

 

Our challenge in this time is not to pretend that we are all alike. We clearly are not. But to recognise, and hopefully learn in some small way to overcome, our intrinsic nature which pushes away others and tries to carve out territory only for ourselves and realise that we have more in common than divides us.

 

Scripture tells us that right from the beginning, when two brothers – Cain and Abel – come to blows, we have been pushing away the people closest to us.

 

The story of Cain and Abel gives us no-one else to blame. There was no peer pressure, no-one else to impress, no money or land to claim.

 

Simply, one person was jealous of the other. He thought he was being overlooked by God. ‘What about me?’ might have been his thought, as envy ate him up, and he killed his brother. Scripture tells us that, from the very outset, this has been our struggle.

 

But we as Christians are called to follow God’s example, as dearly loved children to walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We Christians, alongside other people of faith and of goodwill, live in and serve the whole community – where there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; no British or German or European for all of us are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) We are here to serve our communities and to bless them. To carry hope and peace, and to demonstrate the love of God to everyone.  Servants and neighbours to those around us.

 

When Jesus was asked a question about the path to eternal life his exhortation was first to love God utterly and completely, and then to Love your neighbour as oursleves.

 

Today in London or Berlin our neighbour could be anyone.  That may literally be the case.  We cannot guarantee that the person living next door will have been born in the same country as us, speak the same language or share the same faith.  The mobility of the global population of both rich and poor is re shaping our counties and refiguring our neighbourhoods everywhere.  Our neighbours can be any one and the growth in technology means that our neighbours could be anywhere.

There was a time when it was possible to live in communities where virtually everyone was based together and shared the same faith and values.  We now live with difference.  This can be a great strength and multi-cultural societies can be enriching but it does challenge our shared values.

The question who is our neighbour is not just about the action of the neighbour but also about our understanding of God, the identity of the neighbour, it is about who can be trusted, who can be befriended and who do I need to love.

It is so much easier to view ourselves as the Good Samaritan the one doing good being moved with compassion. But Jesus was putting his audience in the role of the person in the ditch.

To love our neighbour as ourselves not only demands us to be compassionate but it requires us to recognize that others – including our enemies can be bringers of compassion to us – in being compassionate we need to see mutuality so that both parties find value.

If we only see ourselves in the role of the Good Samaritan we in some sense see ourselves as part of an exclusive set of like people, people who “do good” to others.  But if we understand our own vulnerability and need to receive compassion and this it opens the possibility of relationships based on equality and mutuality.

Followers of Jesus Christ believe that every human being is created in the image of God and we are not made in isolation.

As my colleague the Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, has said recently, in responding to the tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower in London:

 

“The Christian view of social relations tells us that my neighbour is not so much a threat, or a limitation, but a gift. If my own individuality is constituted by my relationships, not my own inner elusive personality or choices, then without my neighbour I cannot become my full self.”

 

We belong together in a creation which should be cherished and not simply used and consumed. This is the starting point for the Church’s engagement with society, the nation and the world.

To build community in our cities, across our cities and the world does not just happen because we want it to.  It takes a willingness on our part to embrace difference to realise that we have as much to gain and to give. The man in our gospel reading coming to follow Jesus was warned that here would be no prestige or perks waiting for him. Rather, he would have to give up his place of honour among the religious establishment. He’d be expected to endure sacrifice and hardship. To follow Christ is to love our neighbour even those who are different to us and we need to recognise that will require effort and cost.

We live in uncertain times and despite apparently political difference we have more in common than divides us.  We must not put our hand to the plough and look back at what could have been but forward to the kingdom of God where all are one in Christ Jesus.

Amen

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

It was a privilege to celebrate International Women’s Day at The Guildhall London today, here is what I said:

I have never thought of myself as a pioneer but I was the youngest women to be appointed as the Governments Chief Nursing Officer for England, the fourth women to be ordained Bishop in the Church of England and the first bishop of London to be a women.  I see myself as ordinary and I recognize in doing so I give baggage to my daughter.

It has not passed me by that I was installed last year as the first bishop of London who is a women in the year when we marked 100 years after some women were given the vote and in the week when one hundred and five years before suffragettes placed a bomb under the seat in which I was enthroned.

I am not naturally subversive but I am aware that as the first Bishop of London who is also a women I am subversive just by being a women – and it’s a necessity that I have sought to embrace.

At my consecration as a bishop on the feast of Mary Magdalene, the former Bishop of Stepney, Bishop Adrian, preached and encouraged me to socialize and subvert.

He reminded us then that Jesus chooses outsiders not so much as to disturb the comfortable, but to disturb the conventional, and that it is through the disturbance of people like Mary Magdalene that we learn to see the world and God afresh. I recognize that because of who I am, not just because of my gender, my appointment holds the opportunity to see the world, London, God and His church differently.

I just have to turn up and the world has changed – how then do I use this disturbance for good?

Let me share some thing of the Church of England in London.  It is the settled position of the Church of England that there are those who do not accept women as priests and therefore Bishops and the Church makes provision for them and I will ensure they flourish.  In London there is probably the highest concentration – with 13% of priest not accepting me as a bishop or priest because I am a women.  Alongside that we only have 14% of priests who are in charge of churches who are also women – one of the lowest in the country.

And my challenge is; why if there are 87% of parishes that will have an incumbent who happens to be a women priest are there not more women priests?  How do we bring about the change that the rest of London is seeing?

Next week we celebrate 25 years of the ordination of women as priests in the Church of England and I am aware that I walk in the footsteps of others and I am grateful for the battles they fought.

I am also conscious of the responsibility that I have as a women in this role.  I am watched, people project onto me their expectations which I am certain I won’t live up to.  I am conscious that as someone has written my selfhood begins when I walk away from the expectations of others.

I am very different from my predecessor which is a gift but people still say of me that I have big shoes to fill, my voice needs to be deeper, that it must be hard not being as tall as he was or even having his beard – I remind myself and others that I am not going to grow taller or a beard and I have my own shoes and my own voice and I have to be faithful to who I am and to who God had called me to be. As Madeleine Albright said “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now I that I have it I am not going to be silent”

People often comment that I have been successful in two careers and I have to admit that I do not see myself as ambitious but I have always sort to do the role that I am in to my very best and to take every opportunity which comes my way.  I am conscious that I have a comprehensive school background, I went to a polytechnic and my ordination training was undertaken on a part time residential programme – no whiff of private education or Oxbridge and I have therefore often seen myself as the outsider – in the Department of Health and in the Church.  I have often felt that those I worked with didn’t always get me – a nurse and Senior civil servant wanting to minister in the Church.  And I couldn’t always see people like me.

What I have come to realize is that we should have confidence in who we are, in our difference and if we can’t see anyone like us then maybe that’s because there is an us shaped whole waiting to be filled.

And we need to recognize our unconscious bias – Dame Mary beard in her book Women and Power says that when we think of a powerful person even we think of a white middle class man. It maybe my unconscious bias which is holding me back as well as others.

And as those who find themselves is places of power we must not pull up the ladder we need to be people who support those who come behind us – giving away our power, mentoring and coaching others. The changes that we have seen will only be established if we encourage and give confidence to the next generation of women.

I have the privilege of meeting women every day of my life across this city and I am humbled by their courage and tenacity – do not underestimate your ability to inspire others giving courage to others to act.

I will end with the words of Amelia Earhart “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2019 – A Year for Kindness

When I left Salisbury Cathedral, where I had been the Canon Treasurer, the Works Department gave me a piece of Purbeck Marble – wonderfully cut and prepared and marked with a Stone Mason’s Banker Mark.

Some of you may know that when stone work is undertaken by stonemasons they mark their stone with their mark – a banker mark each unique.  Originally this was done so that they knew who to pay for what work. Now they leave their banker mark to demonstrate the mark they left on the building – the house of God.

I wonder what our mark will be in 2019?

If you happen to look back at my blog you will find that at the turn of the year I often write about kindness – why? Because I believe that there is no better mark to leave.

The Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, in his blog on the 11th November 2016 wrote “I reckon kindness is one of the most underrated virtues in today’s world. It isn’t bland or soft or feeble or weak. It isn’t about namby-pambyism or avoidance of conflict. Kindness comes when, even where it isn’t deserved, we dare to offer an opening to humanity and mercy, regardless of cost or reward. It is more than being nice and it can be very demanding in certain circumstances.”

We find ourselves in a world where our communities seem to have developed fractures, loneliness is on the increase, mental illness among your people is on the rise and I believe that diverse communities are strong communities and divided ones are weak and we hold the power to make a difference.

In 2017 The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Carnegie UK Trust published a report by Zoe Ferguson called ‘The Place of Kindness’. The report showed how random acts of kindness have a significant impact on the quality of lives. Kindness reduces social isolation and improves wellbeing. It also provides the building blocks for community empowerment and is a necessary ingredient of successful communities.  The report suggested that for the public policy realm talking about kindness is too personal and too ephemeral but we all know when someone has been kind to us.

I hope that Churches this year will increase the mark they are making on their communities by growing their acts of kindness for that is the true work of Christmas.

As Howard Thurman an African-American theologian wrote in his poem
‘The Work of Christmas Begins’

When the song of the angels is stilled
And the star in the sky is gone
When the kings and princes are home
And the shepherds are back with their flocks
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost
To heal the broken hearted
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner
To rebuild the nations
To bring peace among the people
To make music in the heart

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Light and Darkness Dance together but we have Hope

Sermon Preached at St Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas Morning:
John 1:1-14 and Hebrews 1:1-12

Regent Street kicked off the Christmas season back in November as it turned on its Christmas lights – the spirit of Christmas –  the sky above Regent Street filled with winged creatures, Bude in Cornwall has a Perspex shopping trolley tunnel which has been decorated with lights in such a way that it has attracted international headlines as it has become a place for marriage proposals, The Tate closer to home has snails with their slime trails over the south front formed of sparkly lights and Tiverton in Devon have had pants – just in case you think you miss heard me over the PA yes I did indeed say pants.

Three years ago Tiverton Council used three years’ worth of funding to commission new Christmas lights for their high street.  They were selected because the town’s Christmas committee “liked their shapes”. But once switched on, they resembled festive undergarments on a washing line.

_86863971_pants1

The Committee chair said: “They’re Father Christmas’s sparkly underpants and they’re great.”  And although this year they have been replaced by something more traditional they can still be viewed online.

At this time of the year our sky lines are full of lights – light and darkness dance together.

Life does not exist without light.  From the moment of birth we are surrounded by light. The warm light of a summer drawn, the harsh light of office buildings, the magical lights on a Christmas tree, lights that reminds us of home which is see though windows of trains or buses as we travel in winter months and the light of the moon and stars. We have been born into a world of light.

Without light we would not have colour or form, without light we would not have oxygen or life. But light has deeper meanings for us. Stevie Wonder sings ’you are the sunshine of my life’ and Debby Boone’s song lyrics declare ‘you light up my life and give me hope to carry on’ I wonder what or who is it that gives your life light?

In contrast to light we have Darkness.  Darkness is the absence of light, darkness affects our orientation, our perspective and it affects our emotions bringing us fear and confusion.

Now this is the season of darkness and as the sun has become short-lived in our sky the shadows become long. We have come face to face with shadows throughout the world, we live in the shadows of political turbulence, of a harder economic environment and maybe you see shadows in your own lives.

The reality of our lives is reflected in our reading from John where light and darkness dance together.  The promise of Christmas is that ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’

In the North aisle of St Paul’s cathedral there is an art installation by Bill Viola called Mary.  Installed in 2016 it is 13 minutes long audio visual installation shows a beautiful Madonna of colour gazing straight out to us with an expression of compassion as her baby suckles at her breast. Behind her traffic moves though a high rise cityscape building up with an intensity as the sky changes from day to evening to night but the women keeps looking back at us with some unwavering composure.

20181120_143428

Mary by Bill Viola

Then Mary as a lone figure wonders among cliffs and the scenes of the annunciation, visitation, birth of Christ reflecting her life and her dreams – biblical images transposed into a modern setting making ancient narratives alive in a new way.  The final image is the Pieta – the Virgin Mary as pale as chalk holding the dead Christ – her hand caressing a lifeless cold leg   – infinite sorrow.

The installation encompasses the great themes of life, of birth, relationships, joy, suffering and death – the themes of light and darkness all of which are our shared experience.  I am sure you are aware this Christmas morning of both the joy and the sorrow in your life.

It is into this shared experience which God was born in Christ – Emmanuel to bring us hope. Christmas invites us to be people of hope as light and darkness dance together.

Now hope is not about optimism which is almost entirely related to personality. Hope is not about a short lived happiness which we know will pass away. It is about a deeper inner peace which can exists in the dark places of our lives. And as our reading reminds us hope is not born of blood, it is not born of the will of flesh it is born of God.

We hope for a future where God’s kingdom is seen in full, we hope for a world of justice and of peace and we hope for eternal life in which there is no more death and dying.  I wonder if you can imagine for one moment what that would be like?

Whilst hope speaks of a future it also breaks into our present like shafts of sunlight. Whilst Christ came into the world in the past he is still in our present Emmanuel – God with us for he is the same and his years will never end.  It is this hope which holds us when we are living in shadows.

The lights which fill our skies at this time of the year, angels, stars, Christmas trees or pants are beautiful but if we are not careful they point not to the true spirit of Christmas but rather the transient happiness or optimism of this world.  To be a person of hope I need to live praying Emmanuel – God be with me as the light and darkness of my life dance together.

The lights which fill our skies at this time of the year reflect off the environment around them and seem to shine brighter so we are called to reflect the light of Christ to be part of the light calming the fears of those around us, breaking like light into the loneliness of others, reaching out through divisions in our community, sitting with those who are hurting and giving to others the light and life of Christ.  Who can we be light to this Christmas?

Light and darkness will continue to dance with each other but the message of Christmas remains that God is with us – Emmanuel and that the light shines in the darkness and darkness will not overcome it.

I pray that Christ the Sun of Righteousness will shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path.

Amen

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Challenges facing young people

My speech in the House of Lords today as Baroness Armstrong of Hill Top moved that his House Take note of the challenges facing young people.

It has been said that young people are our future. They are not – they are our present.  They hold the potential to reimagine the world and see possibilities not obstacles. They are a transformative presence in our present and reshape theirs and our future.

But life is complex for them – the high household income and home ownership rates that were a feature of the 20th century have failed to materialize for younger generations so far in the 21st. Yet, what I recognise more than anything, are the concerns over identity and belonging.

In October BBC Radio 4 announced the results of The Loneliness Experiment, a nationwide survey conducted by BBC Radio 4’s “All In The Mind” in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection.

The survey results indicated that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.

The young are disproportionately affected by violent crime. This is even truer of those from a Black and minority ethnic or disadvantaged backgrounds.

Last month 250 churches across London gathered with youth workers, our schools, the police and young people to ask what we can do together. As part of their place in the local community, churches made a commitment to work in partnership with other organisations to seek to build on the existing work of our schools, after school clubs and youth projects to make their communities’ places where young people can find their identity, feel they belong and are safe.

One of the greatest challenges is how do we fund, recruit and retain good youth workers?  People who will remain in the community as young people grow up.  Role models are highly important for us psychologically, they help to guide us through life during our development and teach us to make important decisions that affect the outcome of our lives.

I also know from my previous life as a nurse that the only way to tackle these problems is through a whole-system approach, which I understand is now the consensus view.  Funding is central to this, and I welcome the £250 million allocated by the Mayor of London to establish a Violence Reduction Unit.  But, as the Commission on Youth Violence has spoken of, funding is often given in silos, with youth clubs regularly competing against one another for narrow funding streams.  I understand that the Commission’s final report is forthcoming, and I look forward to reading its findings.

I would like to pay particular testament to the vital youth work which is happening in places of worship and community halls across the country. In part of my own Diocese, in the London Borough of Camden, where according to the End Child Poverty coalition, 40% of children live in poverty, St Mary’s Primrose Hill’s youth workers mentor more than 20 young people a week, and undertake multiple prison visits a month.  The likes of St Mary’s are working hard to give our young people the hope that they deserve.

One of the wonderful characteristic of London is its diversity; it is multi faith and multi-racial yet at the same time we have seen a growth in people feeling marginalized – but I believe that we have more in common than divides us.

I wish to end my remarks today by reminding noble Lords that there is reason to be hopeful. Earlier this year I attended a youth Iftar – an opportunity for young people from a range of religions to celebrate that diversity, and to discover new things about each other.  Our conversations planted seeds which will build community bonds and friendships.  It also helped us to learn to value each other, to help build the peaceful and just society that all our religions seek. I reflected that this type of grand vision begins by taking such simple steps towards each other – but sometime we need to help each other to do it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

t5img

Today, as we begin a new Triennium of this Synod, we celebrated the Eucharist and heard from Ephesians 3:14-4:6 and the gospel of John 15:1-12. We reflected on the generous love of God and Jesus’ call to love each other as he loved us, and Paul’s call to bear with each other in love.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

It has been 8 months since my installation, and a year since I became aware of the new ministry to which God was calling me.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your welcome and support.  It has been a great joy to have begun to get to know you, the Diocese, our churches, and the community to which I have been called.

It has been a privilege to see the way in which the Church in London is responding to God’s call to speak confidently about the hope we have found in Christ, to act with compassion in our communities and to creatively plant new worshipping communities.  There is much to celebrate.

We have seen:

  • 38,000 people sign up as Ambassadors;
  • We have over 55 new worshipping communities, well on the way to our target of 100;
  • There are 153 parishes delivering 230 distinctive projects focusing on tackling poverty and inequality through 1500 volunteers working alongside paid staff to create positive outcomes for over 14,000 lives each year;
  • And we should not forget the 60 thousand children attending one of our 160 schools.

As a city, as a country and as a church we are entering a time of uncertainty. What is it that we are called to be and do at this time?

What are the signs of the time?

  • 123 people have been killed in London so far this year – 71 fatal stabbings and 14 shootings.
  • There are some 8000 people sleeping rough in the capital.
  • St Luke’s healthcare for clergy found in a recent survey of clergy that around 12% of those who responded said they are struggling or barely coping. Two-thirds of those said they frequently considered giving up their role in the Church because of stress
  • The Church in the Diocese of London is growing in confidence. However, while our worshipping community figures are stable, this is a city where still only 1.6% of the population attends church.
  • We are a diocese where only 5 per cent of our some 850 clergy are from Black and Minority Ethnic Groups.
  • The House of Bishops will within this Triennium respond to Living in Love and faith. The project on relationships, marriage and sexuality.

Sometimes the signs of the time may seem overwhelming but we need to keep in mind Paul’s audacious prayer in which he reminds us of the power that is at work in us and the people we have been called to be:

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20)

So looking forward, rooted and grounded in love with Christ dwelling in us we have been called in all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

It is rooted and grounded in love with Christ dwelling in us we look forward to the new Triennium and in doing so we begin a new Church year which marks the last two years of Capital Vision 2020, all areas of focus remain but we are going to pay greater attention to:

  • Young people
  • New worshipping communities
  • Increasing vocations
  • Our ambassadors
  • Capital Mass

Paul reminds us that it is not just what we do but how we do it. Central to what we do as a Synod is to reflect on how we support and enable the local church resourcing them to be confident in speaking about their faith, compassionate in their care of the community and creatively planting new worshipping communities.

The Diocesan Lent Appeal has in the past been a way in which we have supported our parishes to consider prayerfully how we can as a Diocese join together and raise awareness of an issue.  This year it is on Modern Day Slavery. Our appeal will build on the work of the Clewer Initiative, part of the national church’s approach to eradicating modern day slavery. We will be partnering with five charities that are already active in London.

There are at least 40 million victims of modern day slavery in the world today, and tens of thousands in the UK.  In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, in a capital city heralded for its history and culture, modern slavery is thriving.  Thousands are forced into domestic servitude, forced labour or sexual exploitation in plain sight of Londoners, and many more are at risk of falling through the cracks, hidden from the view of the authorities, charities and the church.

We as a Synod need to consider prayerfully what God is calling us to do beyond 2020.  We must be rooted and established in Christ, growing deeper into God and towards each other and the world – the fruit of which will be growth, spiritual and numerical.  We need to ask of each other what it is to do this with humility and gentleness, with patience; what it is to bear with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bonds of love.

Together we need to support the clergy of this diocese and set all of God’s people free; we need to work with our church schools. We need a vision which has young people at its heart, underpinned by our values of confidence, compassion and creativity.

20 Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment