Sorting the monkeys at your circus, all for a Werther’s Original.

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You know what it’s like, I’d just go for a walk, nothing special, just round and about. But it meant that I somehow misplaced so much time chatting to people that I had to change my route which in turn led me into chatting to another couple of people. And one of the interesting things about being a churchwarden is the questions people ask you.

OK so some of it is technical stuff about when the sheep are going back into the churchyard to keep the grass down. But a lot of it is far deeper than that.

We had a couple of funerals. An elderly couple, the husband died and the day after the funeral they found the widow dead. It was sad, they’d no family, their son had died years ago and the husband had already been buried with him. They had good friends and kind neighbours but they’d lived for each other for over sixty years and she didn’t want to go on. They found her drowned in the dock.

So then it’s her funeral. If anything she got more people than her husband, and it was tough because they felt guilty. It’s that nagging question, “What could I have done?” Frankly they couldn’t really have done any more; her community had supported her as much as they could without trespassing on her dignity and independence.

And then at the end of funeral somebody comes up to me and asks if she’ll go to heaven, what with suicide and stuff.

So I just looked at him and explained gently, “I’m sorry, I’m just the churchwarden, you really want to speak to him at the front, he decides these things.”

“Oh, you mean the Vicar?”

“No, I mean the chap nailed to a cross on the stained glass windows. He’s the one who decides that sort of thing; it’s above my pay grade.”

 

And then today I get asked whether I approve of Gay marriage in church! I’m sitting on a roadside bench dressed in my working clothes with wellies and flat cap. Now it might be that this is the standard garb of the working theologian, in which case it’s an obvious mistake to make.

So we discussed the matter. I explained that various denominations had had a problem with ordaining women. I coped with this by just listened to him at the front. He said, and I briefly paraphrase, “A good tree can’t bear bad fruit. And a bad tree can’t bear good fruit…………You can tell each tree by its fruit.”

So I just watched those women I knew in the ministry and looked at what came of it. Well it was pretty obvious that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing so I wasn’t going to get in the way. Same with gay clergy, it’s just the case of having the humility to shut up and watch what’s going on.

Well the chap I was talking to seemed to think that this was sensible, but didn’t cover gay marriage.

So I asked him what he was, what summed him up? He thought a bit and said, “I think I’m a walker.” He looked to the lady who was with him for confirmation and she agreed.

So I said, “So you don’t define yourself by your heterosexuality?”

I’m afraid that for me, the first question to a wedding couple should be ‘who are you, what sums you up?” I’d hope that they would answer that they’re Christians, rather than telling me their sexuality.

You see, if they’re Christians, part of the Church, part of the community, known for the work they do and the help they give, then it’s obvious that they’ll want to marry in their parish church and I think that the parish, knowing them and loving and respecting them for what they do, will want them to be there.

But if they’re just a couple who want a pretty building so that they get ‘better’ wedding photos, why on earth are they bothering with a wedding service where they make vows in the sight of a God they don’t show any signs of believing in?

 

Anyway I think the couple liked the argument, the lady gave me a Werther’s Original

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14 thoughts on “Sorting the monkeys at your circus, all for a Werther’s Original.

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt September 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm Reply

    God must love gay people. He made them.

    • jwebster2 September 19, 2016 at 6:17 am Reply

      Given he made all of us, and then gave us free will, I think I can understand why he feels humility is important 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt September 19, 2016 at 7:34 am

        Free will is a tough gift. I kind of get why it’s necessary, but the side effects of choosing wrong are so heavy.

      • jwebster2 September 19, 2016 at 7:42 am

        But it’s got to be your choice, otherwise you’re not a person, just an automaton, just DNA frantically seeking ways to ensure replication.

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt September 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

        I’ve been sitting here for four hours trying to make the simple choice to go to bed.

        I made a promise to myself not to speak ill of our new priest – and had broken that promise with each of the two people at home almost as soon as I saw them.

        I have the willpower of a zombie – the energy level is so low it cannot make decisions.

        Do I get a free pass?

        I’m so tired of not being physically able to simple make a decision.

      • jwebster2 September 19, 2016 at 8:53 am

        I think that the phrase ‘sinners saved by grace’ covers most things 🙂

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt September 19, 2016 at 2:29 pm

        Maybe, instead of being annoyed that I need so much saving, I should boast, like St. Paul, that I am weak so God can show his might.

        It is annoying to be weak. Probably good for the soul. Like kintsugi, the ‘Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.’

      • jwebster2 September 19, 2016 at 4:35 pm

        “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

      • Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt September 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm

        Exactly. We had that reading not long ago, and it gave me comfort.

        All we have to do is to keep trying to follow. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times we fail.

      • jwebster2 September 19, 2016 at 5:27 pm

        which is lucky really

  2. Mick Canning September 19, 2016 at 9:24 am Reply

    I think your post nicely sums up the situation, Jim.

  3. lercio October 21, 2016 at 12:27 am Reply

    My Son was married in the Judges Chamber (unused) upstairs in the Green Dragon, Hereford, and the wedding photographs were in front of the Cathedral.
    However my nephews were pleased that the reception was in the Green Dragon.
    He’d lived in London for ten years and it’s difficult to get a church wedding in the in laws town if they don’t go to church.
    I suppose if he’d tried hard enough he could have sorted it out, but patience isn’t a strong point, however he has a twelve year old son.
    I’m really going to enjoy the next few years 😉

    • jwebster2 October 21, 2016 at 8:11 am Reply

      The most important thing about any marriage is the two people who decide to go in for it. The venue is secondary, very much so.
      Interestingly the Church, going back to Paul, has always fully accepted civil marriage. But if someone isn’t part of a church community, why on earth bother getting married in church? The marriage isn’t going to be better or stronger or more or less blessed by God. The whole idea of having a marriage in a church is that you’re celebrating the event with the rest of your church community.

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