"We are going to need to do a lot of ex...

First published 22nd November 2012

"We are going to need to do a lot of explaining." So said Archbishop Rowan as he helped Synod face up to the implications of Tuesday's vote.

As I listened to the local and national news yesterday the truth of that loomed large. Most people, including interviewers as competent as John Humphreys, seem not to appreciate that the Church of England has already accepted the principle to ordain women as bishops. The wrestling over the details of the wording - respecting the theological position and ministerial needs of those who cannot assent whilst also ensuring that women bishops are not compromised by the legislation - does not lend itself readily to a media sound-byte.

Bishop Mike has called us not to lose heart and my journey into London gave me small glimmers for hope yesterday. I did encounter puzzlement and derision - just what is going on in the C of E?! But I also received sympathy and understanding. There is appreciation that the great majority of members of the Church of England want women to serve as bishops. The figures are getting out and the fact that 42 out of 44 dioceses approved of this, that only three bishops voted against the proposal, and that it fell by only 6 votes in one constituency have registered with people outside the Church. They also recognize our own sense of pain and disappointment. All this matters.

We are rightly 'down' about this impact of this vote on our witness and mission. As Archbishop Rowan stated, it has hurt our credibility. But this is also a time to remember that Christ's followers are Easter people. As Bishop Mike reminded us in Pauls words, it is when we seem to be crushed and defeated that God shows his hand most clearly. That is the moment we know that the ministry entrusted to us is his, not ours. When we are lying on the canvas without much strength it has to be God who stands us on our feet again.

Paradoxically a disaster like this could bring about the reforms and renewal that feel greatly overdue. Rather than placing yet another obstacle in front of the incoming Archbishop this event could yet provide the impetus for change the Church of England so needs.

Paradox is central to the gospel and so is hope. Let's take heart from this.

Powered by Church Edit