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New Wine 2017: The Irony of Experience

At New Wine, this year, much was said about stepping out, speaking up and not hiding away. RT Kendall encouraged us to transition whilst we have the opportunity from foolish to wise attendants with the oil of the Spirit in plentiful supply. He addressed the gathering regarding tithing, powerfully and sensitively. He dwelt on the importance of becoming Word and Spirit communities, in equal weight.

Kate Coleman encouraged us to harness the inner David and his sling, and be prepared to meet the ideological giants of our day. Some of these are loose in the church: theo-logy without the ‘theo’ and ‘ologies’ of pain, experience, and my rights, dominating instead. Are some of us called to run into the debate rather than away? She asked us to join her in a symbolic action, to take scarves or handkerchiefs, if we had them, swing them round like slings (without stones, I hasten to add). I couldn’t but help think of the shots slung that General Synod. Oh the wounds we cause each other in this house of friends!

I really believe that the Church of England is not finished yet and there are reasons to hope.

My own call from God this year, then, had a lot to do with this speaking out.

As I responded to a call to the front, for leaders who are being asked to step out, I went forward. I had been waiting all week. It was then felt to be a call particularly for women and I powerfully met with God in the power of His Spirit. I wondered what this would mean and before twenty-four hours had passed I was asked by the Church Times to write my own piece about the state of the Church in its movements since that Synod.

I returned home with one day before vacation abroad to complete the task.

And so I went public, I guess, about what I really believe: that the Church of England is not finished yet and there are reasons to hope. We are not to jump ship but pray for a commitment to our heritage; for our bishops to simply re-affirm what we are all about. It is possible to love and to flourish and to serve, to welcome and to include, to declare God’s covenant rainbow love and still believe and practice, as Christians, traditional marriage. I wrote my piece and I felt God’s peace despite anticipating the consequential protests and storms.

This General Synod was watershed for the water shed, the tears of human frustration spilt that we find ourselves all at such odds. Radical Christian inclusion seems to speak to me about our welcome through baptism but to others of something different altogether. And so for me, this year, New Wine was a confirmation of my call to move boldly (with humility) in a church which seems all at sea. I am a charismatic, evangelical, Anglican Christian with a teachable spirit, aware now that there are some ironies to making too much of my experience. Experience brings some issues, as I hope you can see.

 

Notes

1. https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/8-september/comment/opinion/bibles-arm-waving-and-incense

2. https://www.churchofengland.org/media/4016045/item-12.pdf

3. What we are finding in the Church of England is that this emphasis is becoming clouded by people calling for fulfilment in their sexualities, particularly where these are not heterosexual. We are, as evangelicals, trying to articulate chastity in marriage and singleness and that other expressions of sexuality are challenged by God as not best for our flourishing. All this lies at the heart of our current debates on Issues in Human Sexuality.

4. The Church of England is listening more and more to people’s experiences almost as if subjective experiences are to be held uppermost and as more important than the Word of God. Evangelicals within the Church of England hope to be pastoral but also to continue to hear the challenge that is God’s Word. God doesn’t always have us feel comfortable, calls us to a cruciform life – my fulfilment can not be found in my self-actualisation or in only a therapeutic approach to my identity – my identity resides in what Christ declares to be true about my status.

5. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/23/gay-activist-claims-spiritually-abused-church

 

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Category: In Depth, Summer 2017

About the Author: Rachel Marszalek is Vicar of All Saints, Ealing, an Anglican Church in London. Revd Marszalek is involved in the New Wine Movement and particularly focussed on women in Anglican ordained ministries within the network. She is married with two girls and two puppy dogs who are all a joy to her. God first called her to the church during the prayer of Humble Access in an Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer service when she was 8 years old. She blogs at Revising Reform. Facebook. Twitter: @revisingreform

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