30 DAYS: AUGUST 1997
The congregation of Loyal Presbyters, who gathered for the Canterbury Diocesan Conference, went home in good heart this year. Greatly encouraged by the Primate’s assurance that, contrary to the miserable prognostications of the gloom mongers, the Anglican Communion is in good shape, they were further uplifted by his reflections on the state of his sabbatical hosts, The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.
While acknowledging the odd difficulty - (believed to be a guarded reference to the adoption of wholesale immorality, persecution of the orthodox and doctrinal free fall) - they are, apparently, an example to us all in their elevation of the great sacrament of late 20th century Anglicanism, the raising of vast amounts of dosh. As the good book surely should have said, “unto him who is given much, much shall be forgiven” Amen.
Before the backstairs deal was done which turned the Synod’s gay debate into a damp squib most bishops were invoking the prayers of St. Sebastian to save them from exposure as participants in the Church of England’s worst kept secret - that the overwhelming majority of them had knowingly ordained, appointed, promoted and consecrated practising homosexuals.
One or two brave souls, however, were not so easily intimidated by the prospect of the publication of the Rev. Kirker’s list. As the Bishop of Leicester jovially remarked to any within his generous earshot - “If I’m not on the list I shall want to know why”.
The Lord God Almighty, Heavenly Father and author of all patriarchal injustice is in further trouble with American feminists. The idea that His Son’s sacrifice should be thought to atone for the sins of the world is deeply repulsive.
It is, they have decided, an archetype of the most horrific kind of child abuse!
This can be easily obviated, of course. If God is a woman then she would, as the sisters would tell you, have “a right to choose” what happened to her child.
Jolly japes in Blackburn Diocese at a recent ordination. A parish expecting to see their low church minister commissioned and share in table fellowship were astonished to see him follow the Romish practice of receiving communion in one kind only. They can relax. Our man on the chalice can assure them that his abstinence was for the noblest of reasons. Presented with the noxious brew of brain befuddling fermented grape, the newly ordained Genevan responded, not with the customary “Amen”, but a witnessing “No thanks, I’m tee total”.
When an orthodox evangelical was called to serve a parish in the U.S.A. he was not entirely surprised when the bishop vetoed his appointment. The bishop was a well known supporter of feminism and gay rights - the parish priest was not.
What did surprise our evangelical friend was to discover, from enterprising evo “hackers”, that the bishop had enlisted the help of “Integrity” (the gay lobby group) to use its world wide web contacts to see if anyone had “any dirt on the candidate which could back up the veto”.
There wasn’t any but, to nobody’s great surprise the veto remained without benefit of explanation or justification.
THE REAL PRESENCE
When a recent ordinand in Portsmouth diocese asked Bishop Kenneth Stevenson for the service to be conducted by a bishop of the original integrity, Ken was, of course, delighted to oblige.
Ensuring that this onerous spiritual task should not fall to the man’s former principal, the Bishop of Richborough, our Ken wheeled in the Chaplain to the M3, “Bazza” Basingstoke.
The ubiquitous “Bazza” had to fulfil one major condition - he must wear Pompey’s own vestments, thereby signifying the real presence and authority of the enforced absentee!
Apparently one of Ken’s forebears came from Denmark where “the Cathedral Cope” has similar spooky powers. This latest influence of Poorvoo gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “empty suits”.
WITH OR WITHOUT
Bishops wishing to tighten the communion discipline for unconfirmed children need, it appears, to be a little more explicit.
A relatively new bishop paying his first visit to a Midlands parish was utterly nonplussed by the Vicar’s sacramental instructions.
“Now bishop, you put the consecrated wafers in the middle and then a ring of unconsecrated wafers round the edge. The consecrated wafers are administered to adults with the words “The Body of Christ” - to which they reply “Amen”, and the unconsecrated wafers we give to the children”.
“And what” responded the perplexed bishop “are the suggested words of administration to the children?”.
“Oh” replied the Vicar “something like “nice to see you”.
“To which, I suppose” the bishop retorted “the well trained child will respond, “to see you nice!”
Dr. Christina Baxter’s injury time intervention in the Gay Debate caused chaos and confusion. To the delight of the nocturnally whipped Bishops, orthodox voters from both the Evangelical and Catholic Groups seemed unclear which lobby to go through to achieve a more biblical outcome.
One earnest newcomer turned to a more cynical old hand for advice.
“Don’t worry, Father” came the reply “General Synod loves a division - it’s like the Peace - just a wonderful opportunity to stretch your legs.”
JUST FANCY THAT
“No great work will be done for Our Lord if we are not obedient to God and at unity with one another. Make no mistake about it, the greatest heresy of all is the failure to live and work together as Christians when we disagree and we dare not, must not, should not allow any issue however personally sacred to each of us to become a matter that divides the Church of God”.
[‘Sermon to U.S. General Convention 19 July, 1997 by Archbishop George Carey]
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