In this season of All Saints our lectionary follows through the book of the prophet Daniel and the book of the Revelation to John. It often feels as if we are spanning the whole of time from the very beginning of salvation history to the culmination of all things. These are ‘not easy’ readings, and we are living in ‘not easy’ times. They require us both to wrestle and to surrender. But these words are also a source of great comfort, reminding us that God has the whole of history in view and yet, is constantly present with us, just as he always has been.
In this multi-sensory throne room vision, this great crowd of witnesses testifies to the one who is ‘worthy’ in ‘full voice’. There is nothing half-hearted about this. Their devotion is loud and resolute and all inclusive. There is full submission to the one who is worthy.
As we make our preparation for Advent, when we will once again, ready ourselves to receive the coming King, may we find ourselves similarly captured by this vision, that we too may be inspired and compelled to greater devotion to the Lord Jesus, the only one who is ‘worthy… to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might,’ both now and to eternity.
The Conference of the Parties (COP 27) summit on Climate Change began yesterday, in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, and continues to the 18 November. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: ‘As global leaders gather at COP27, the world holds its breath. A world which has this year suffered further catastrophic flooding, drought, heatwaves, and storms. A world already in crisis. A world which knows that we are perilously near the point of no return.’
We are committed to addressing this crisis here in the Diocese of Sheffield and are delighted that we now have 46 churches registered as Eco Churches
as well as a significant number of interventions going on across the Diocese in partnership with other organisations. We are grateful for the work of our Diocesan Environment Officer, Dr Cathy Rhodes, and the Environment Working Group and all those working on our goal to become net zero by 2030 in line with the national church commitment. We also recognise that our efforts are one small part of the response that is needed across every community.
We agree with Archbishop Justin that ‘It is imperative that we seek justice so that those nations with greatest responsibility will take the lead, achieving net-zero carbon emissions and supporting other countries in this transition. God calls us to embrace justice. Christian scripture describes how we share in the ‘renewed creation of heaven and earth with justice’ (2 Peter 3:13). Let justice flow so that we see human lives and hope restored, and the life of the earth itself protected and renewed.’
Please join us in praying through these days for a commitment to real change among our global leaders, changes that address this climate emergency in tangible ways and particularly for those places and people most vulnerable to its dreadful effects now and in the years ahead.
College of Bishops
As many of you will be aware, the College of Bishops met at High Leigh Conference Centre this week. The meeting was entirely focussed on the stage we have reached in the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ process and included the ‘Listening in Love and Faith’ material which has been gathered in response to the work done in dioceses over the past year or so. Both of us were present and played an active part through the three days, which we found to be characterised by grace and honesty. There will be more to say in due course, but for now, we would like to thank those of you who were praying, we were keenly aware of your support and prayers. We also carried with us the many conversations and experiences from our common life here in the Diocese as we sought to participate with care and kindness, not simply for ourselves, but also on your behalf.
You will be aware that, since the conclusion of that gathering, some of our colleagues have chosen to speak out personally in print and on social media. We would be especially grateful for your prayers as we seek to discern whether or not a statement from us would be helpful and if so, what such statement might say. We are painfully aware that our ongoing silence can itself be a cause of distress; but we are equally aware that a statement from us might compound the distress. Our instinct therefore is to continue to exercise relative restraint for the duration of the discernment of the College of Bishops which will meet again 12-14 December.
Vision for Racial Justice
We are grateful to members of the ‘Diversity in Participation’ group in the Diocese, for setting out a clear vision for Racial Justice over the coming years. This is now published on our website, and you can read it here
. We acknowledge that this is simply the first step towards addressing this significant area of work. As your bishops, we are committed to leading the way to enable us all to play our part to ensure that racism has no place in the Diocese of Sheffield. The next step will be to develop a ‘roadmap of activity’ setting out the actions we will need to take to make this vision a reality.
We are delighted to welcome Rev. Dr Christian Selvaratnam to speak at our next Leading Well Study Day on Wednesday 23 November, 9.30 to 2.30pm at St Peter’s, Warmsworth. Christian is Dean of Church Planting at St Hild College. An ordained Anglican minister, he has led numerous church plants and is involved in various projects resourcing church planting across the UK. He will be speaking on ‘Finding and Developing Leaders in Ministry and Mission’. He has recently published ‘The Craft of Church Planting: Exploring the Lost Wisdom of Apprenticeship.’ One reviewer commented: ‘He has coached and discipled hundreds of leaders and enabled the planting of many churches. This book introduces church planting as a craft to be learned, skilfully used and passed on for others to multiply the craft.’ You can book a place here
Unconscious Bias Training
Sometimes our ignorance, prejudices and blind spots can prevent us treating people fairly and showing God's love equally to everyone. The Unconscious Bias training session is a short introduction to this important area of our lives. The next session takes place on November 15th
online. You can book your place here
A reminder that 20 November is Safeguarding Sunday
when we hope you will review the materials available and find ways to use them as part of your Sunday Worship. We are very grateful for those whose work is dedicated to this aspect of our common life, not least Archdeacon Malcolm, the lead for Safeguarding on the Bishop’s Senior Staff Team and of course Sian, Elina, Rachel, Debs and Chris. This is also an opportunity to recognise and thank our dedicated Parish Safeguarding Officers and to pray for the work they do.
As ever, this comes with our gratitude and our prayers,
With every blessing