Jonathan referred to this development in his sermon for the second Sunday of Lent. Ruth Gledhill provides us with a little more information (make sure you read the comments at Ruth's).
Then, of course the extremists had to chime in, making it all about some imaginary blessing service.
What I found particularly noteworthy was Jonathan's response to all of this, as voiced in his sermon:
...However, although I do not believe for a moment that any of this was God's doing, as a Christian and as a priest, I strongly believe that God will redeem it. To put it bluntly, God will bring something good out of the unhappiness. I have to accept that this may not be for my benefit. It may be the church, you people, who receive a blessing because of what you have been through. Maybe it will be the new vicar whose life will be fulfilled by his or her appointment at this church.If you visit his blog, you will see that he has continued to add new posts, with his usual rapier wit and musical interludes. Apparently, he really does trust in God's redemptive power, and has not let this news turn him bitter.
I am not Jesus. I don't claim to have anywhere near the fortitude and faith that he possessed. But I do use his example to inform my attitude towards my own predicament. I have my own Jerusalem to face and it will be painful. It has been painful. However, something of God will be made possible because of it. Just as something of God was made possible through Christ's suffering...
I know I have something to learn from Jonathan's example. You see, at the moment, I'm still more than a bit disenchanted with the institutional church, for various reasons. And this development doesn't help.
There's thousands of blogs out there. Most are pretty much the same. But Jonathan set out, from the very beginning, to try to create something different. He has been constantly pushing the boundaries of what one can do with this medium. In the process, he has created a close online community. In my opinion, OCICBW is one of the most outstanding blogs currently on the net.
Yet, someone with such demonstrated creativity and community building skills cannot find a place in the institutional church? Unbelievable. But, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least four highly gifted people who are currently being held at arm's length by the Church because, for one reason or another, they are considered "a risk." What I want to know is why is that a bad thing?
If bishops and search committees continue to believe the wise thing to do is to "play it safe" and never take any risks (yes, unfortunately, being "creative" is considered "risky" in many Church circles), then they can expect a small return on their investment. And, if they continue to insist on running a Church as if it were a business, with "risk management" factors built into their personel choices, I'll take a pass, tyvm.
Give me the risk takers, those living on the edge. That's where you'll find the modern day prophets, those seeking the movement of God in this present moment, and not afraid to follow where it leads.
But, in the end, it does all come back to redemption, doesn't it? As I rave and grow more fierce and wild, I am reminded that my life has proven to me over and over again the truth in Paul's line: "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
All things work for good.
Learning to see how God is constantly redeeming this world takes constant practice. It requires us to set aside our view of our lives as a series of good times and bad times, with shades of both in between. Instead, we seek out the movement of God. And the movement of God is always from glory to glory. Our task is to set aside our perceptions of what is going on, and then move with God, from faith, to faith, and so becomes partners in God’s work of redemption.
Yes, all will be redeemed. Maybe even that dear institution we call the Church. Imagine that.
Keep Jonathan in your prayers.
And pray for the Church.