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Year C Proper 21 (2007) RCL Principal
In reports in the news media, from comments I hear at Church meetings and around the place I get the feeling that we are a very nervous Church at the moment. We are told our congregations are dwindling, there are competing ‘entertainments’ which distract people from involving themselves in Church life, people are interested in ‘spirituality’ (whatever that means) but not in ‘institutional religion’ – except, it seems, for various forms of fundamentalism which offers a safe haven in a rapidly changing world. Within the Church ongoing rows bubble away over the ordination of women, now concerned with consecrating women as Bishops, and over the ordination of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex marriages, and to top it all every now and then up pops a conspiracy theory aimed at taking away the little authority the Church has – whether the Gospel of Judas, the DaVinci code or any other fashionable excuse for dismissing the Church.
And some of this is true. There are a lot of things which are stripping away the authority and influence the Church has built up over many centuries. People are less afraid to criticise the Church, and we find ourselves ridiculed or, more often than not, ignored in our present day society. Many people lament the fact that we no longer have the respect we once had, or that people no longer consider Churchgoing a duty as they once did. As if somehow we deserve to have our Churches full, and for people to listen and take note of our every pronouncement. [more]