Bishops and saints

There is something wonderful about the end of October and the beginning of November as we move into a period of remembrance with the feasts of All Saints and All Souls setting us off on a month that will take us via the deeply secular Bonfire Night to the deeply meaningful Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

For all the saints ...

For all the saints …

As I said last week, the Living God groups are now finished and we are getting ready for next Saturday and the time we will spend together thinking about what we have been talking about under the heading ‘We believe in One God’. The Living God Steering Group met again today and were putting in place everything for Advent. It promises to be a really good few weeks together.

At the moment though, my mind is on getting ready for the meeting of the General Synod and the next stage in the process of seeing women ordained as bishops. The result of the work of the Steering Group has been published and the signs are very good. I had been rather dubious about the decision to change the composition of this group and the way it would work. I’m always ready to be proved wrong and especially about something as important as this.

Bishops of the Anglican Communion

Bishops of the Anglican Communion

The papers have now been delivered to those of us who are on the General Synod and the result of the deliberations of the group is exciting and courageous. And the great thing is that the group did not consist just of those in favour – what we have before us is the result of facilitated conversations. Though all parties involved didn’t necessarily sign up for the final document it does seem to have gained the support of most people. Its simplicity makes it so much more possible for the church to get behind. I’m just hoping and praying that the Synod will be positive when we meet later this month.

This weekend sees the beginning of the Robes Project for this year. It really does make you realise that the year is moving on. Robes is a fantastic project, a cold weather shelter run by a number of local churches and congregations. Like all good things, the format is simple and people can easily understand what we are doing – an evening meal, a bed for the night and breakfast – and then during the day the opportunity to work with someone who can help with accomodation, work, whatever the guest needs. My own involvement has been pretty simple to be honest. For the first few years I did the laundry for the night the Cathedral was looking after the project. Then, when the way that was organised changed I was grateful that the Sleepout was introduced. So for the past two years I have taken part in the Sleepout in the Cathedral churchyard and raised money for the project through sponsorship.

The Cathedral team waiting to open the project on the first evening

The Cathedral team waiting to open the project on the first evening

I sent in my registration document this week, so I am signed up and will shortly be seeking the support of sponsors. I can’t say sleeping out is my favourite thing, I’m not really a ‘camper’ by nature. I had one holiday in a tent and didn’t much take to it. But sleeping out in the churchyard one night of the year to make a difference to the lives of my brothers and sisters seems to me to be the least I can do.

The saints who I began thinking about didn’t all do spectacular things – and I’m not saying I’m a saint at all, far from it. But each of us called to be saints are called to do small things as well as big and for most of us it will be in the small things that will make a difference. Perhaps simplicity is the key word, whether on deciding on the legislation to enable women to be bishops, or in addressing one of the ills of our society, like homelessness.

I’m reminded of the book by Arundhati Roy, ‘The God of Small Things’

Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstitutred. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story.

The little things that we do, the ordinary things we do are the bones out of which the story of God is told in the lives of people. There is a deep simplicity to God, something of which Aquinas and others wrote. And I think that is why St John can say

God is love.
(1 John 4.8)

and in three words express elegantly and precisely the very nature of the God we love and serve in one another, saints and bishops, people, together.

A small but beautiful thing for God

A small but beautiful thing for God

Loving, living God,
take my simple offering
and make of it
an act of great love.

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