Updated: Nov 20
A reflection on General Synod with apologies to Don McLean and Horatio Spafford
When in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and their pilot died in a plane crash after a concert, Don McLean was a thirteen-year-old paperboy. It was thirteen years later, that the then unknown folk musician, wrote “American Pie”. McLean’s work reverberates with echoes of his Catholic upbringing.
It is a melancholy song about a terrible tragedy - the sort of song suited to the mood induced by watching the Church of England’s General Synod this week.
General Synod should “make me smile”, with the good news of the fruit of the glorious gospel. Yet "February made me shiver", and this week it landed ever more, “bad news on the doorstep”, of each and every Biblically orthodox member of the Church of England.
Despite their “faith in God above” many are asking whether they will look back in years to come and see 15th November 2023 as “the day” the Church of England “died”, in the fatal car crash of the Prayers of Love and Faith. The day when, “while the king was looking down” Synod “stole his thorny crown” by rendering it needless. Needless because the Bishops of the Church of England (with honourable exceptions) believe that they can transform something from being sinful to a blessing without the necessity of the propitiation, expiation and sanctification of the King of the Jews.
The Bishops should have been commending to every person, “…the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin. Not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul”, instead they “sang dirges in the dark” in praise of, “creating a space for a pastoral response in a time of uncertainty”, “living with contradictory hopes” and “iterative” theology.
As Synod welcomed the commendation of prayers and services to bless sin, I looked hard for “some happy news” yet instead “I saw Satan laughing with delight”.
Everything that emanates from the House of Bishops ought to chime and resound with the love of Christ for all people as expressed in the doctrine of the Church of England. Instead, the Bishops were nothing but “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal”. At least as far as the CofE is concerned is sounds as if, “The church bells all were broken”.
There were encouraging speeches, reminding Synod that "the Bible tells it so", but the question remains as to whether the lampstand has been removed, taken with them as “The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost… caught the last train” out of the Church of England.
But there is hope. Even if the Church of England has died, and even if a little bit of the believer dies with it. Unless the Lord wills it, "This'll not be the day that” he, she or hope dies.
Where the Archbishop of York sees “contradictory hope” the believer faces uncertainty full of confidence that,
“… I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
As, in his grief, Horatio Spafford also wrote, there is another, “…day when faith shall be sight, The Clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so it is well with my soul”.
In the melancholia induced by Synod, “…Lord, haste” that day.
If you share this melancholia - please be assured you are not alone.
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