I leaf through the blogs and websites most days, and I today I notice how women bishops and “gay marriage” are still stirring comment. I don’t think there is going to be a ceasefire over Christmas.
After what has been a dreadful year for the Church of England, with the census telling us of a significant decline in apparent Christian attachment in the last ten years, I wonder if our national church will have the strength, determination and blindness to continue down what Andrew Brown has described as a suicidal pathway. The government’s published proposals for equal marriage, with their “quadruple lock” seem to satisfy almost no one, not even those who want the Church to be exempted from the obligation to marry anyone. I am sure that this social development will come and I hope that Christians will learn to embrace and support people making commitments to each other quickly – not be the sulky children in the corner. But I am not expecting this. And while most accept that women bishops will come it is too early to tell who will be the winners and the losers, whether the integrity of a woman bishop will be preserved, or whether there will be what some call “proper provision” for those who need defending against women’s ministry.
But just for a few days, perhaps, we will be able to do what Christians are really supposed to be doing all the time – worshipping, wondering and thanking our God, and serving our neighbours. And we will draw the strength and inspiration to do this not from arming ourselves to the teeth, or proving that we are right, or that the numbers go our way, or that we are for or against any particular development, but from the hope of transformation that lies in daring to believe that the divine has not remained aloof from our world, but is among us, and with us.