Session 5: Living Together
In this session we explored what is means for us, as Jesus’ disciples within the Church of England, to live together with truthfulness and integrity whilst having differences, disagreements and diversity.
As for the other weeks the evening was guided by a video which tied the sections together and informed us to help with our discussions.
We started by looking at the fifth pastoral principle of the Church of England: to admit to hypocrisy. We live in a world that is quick to pick up when the church fails to act in line with its stated beliefs and principles. Lying is found at the heart of hypocrisy and it weaves webs of fantasy and fails to tell the true story. This, not surprisingly, erodes both trust and openness between people. We are called to be honest about our failings and truthful about our “ inward being”. Saying one thing and believing or doing another is damaging to both ourselves and others. This applies to many issues in our church life, including identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, where are actions as individuals and the collective church do not reflect what we say and believe.
We then watched a story film of married couple, Elaine and Alan, who have been married for many years, after what seemed a whirlwind romance. They discussed both their similarities and differences and how they respected each other’s which strengthened their life together. One of the differences spoken about was about Romance. Elaine was a “ great romantic” whilst Alan did not believe in romantic love but love as described in 1 Corinthian 13:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
saying this was the basis for thier marriage.
The Bible study was based on the John 17 which recounts Jesus’ prayer in the Upper Room, just before his betrayal. Over tea and biscuits, a discussion followed about what struck us about the passage and we shared any words or phrases that we felt were speaking to us in our struggles with unity and diversity.
The last story video introduced us to Stephanie and Debbie. They both talked movingly and were quite candid about their experiences and thoughts as a result of Debbie’s gender change from a David to Debbie; from husband to friend. Stephanie spoke of the pain of her loss of a husband which couldn’t be categorised as widowhood or divorce and the feeling that she was in a societal void. She openly described the day that she told her children was the worst in her life. However, what was evident was how Stephanie had respected Debbie’s choice and they had worked together to keep their family together. Although extremely painful for Stephanie they still live together, in a different relationship to the one she expected when they married, and plan to continue to live together as their children leave home.
The final discussion focused around trying to categorise the churches differences over identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage and what new insights, difficulties or possibilities we could take to God in prayer. Those present generally felt that there was quite a diversity of belief with the Church of England itself over identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage and then the diversity of the Worldwide Anglican Church also needed to be considered too. It will not be any easy path as there would seem to be a whole spectrum of beliefs and attitudes to how we address this topic within the Church of England.
The session ended with a prayer:
Grant to your people, good Lord,
the spirit of unity,
that we may dwell together in your love,
and so bear to the world
the ointment of your healing and the dew of your blessing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Common Worship: Prayer after Psalm 133 (adapted
Everyone was asked to note what they had gained from the session or their thoughts about this or future sessions or any questions they might have. Here are a few :
“ We need to let God guide us to work towards the right way”
“Our parish rejoices in making everyone welcome”
“I don’t feel that there is tension in our church, but in others there might be”
“We are lucky that we have two very welcoming and accepting churches and church families ”
“Feels as if one is being asked to sit on judgement on others. Surely not!
“Importance of unity in communicating the love of God with the world around us”
Want to explore session 3 further?
- Download the LLF book* and look at Chapters 7,11,14 and scenes 4 and the Appeal
- Podcasts to listen to:6, 8, 12 & 16
- Films to watch: Graham
*Resources for the course can be found via www.churchofengland.org/LLF
Next session; A feedback session (questions for reflection are below) will be at All Saint’s Church Hall , Weston on Thursday 3rd March, starting at 7:30. All are welcome.
Questions to reflect on:
• What have you learned from the course – about God, yourself, each other, the church?
• How diverse was your group? What did you discover about each other’s different perspectives?
• What aspects of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage felt particularly important to learn about?
• How has the course affected your own life and the life of your church community?
• What did you find hopeful, challenging?
• What did you hear God saying to the church