How dare it snow, and mess up our plans? What went wrong?

Okay, you and I know that nobody is to blame. No human, anyway. So why do we call it bad weather?

The photo is of me and one of my daughters in 1982. It was taken by a local newspaper, the Ashton Reporter. I had recently become a vicar for the first time, and I wrote in the parish magazine that when it snows there is nothing wrong with the weather. It may mess up our plans, but it isn’t the snow that’s at fault. Build a snowman.

Late last year I had the unusual experience of attending a book group where the group had been reading a book I wrote about 14 years ago; much of the book consisted of a series of Lent Lectures I gave at York Minster.

The clear challenge in the book, and which surfaced in the very civilised conversation we had in the book group, was about change and my insistence that change is not only inevitable, even in the Christian faith, but to be welcomed. Change is not everyone’s favourite word, as I’ve discovered to my cost, even if change is what God calls us to do.

Easter being early this year, there has been very little time to re-adjust from the post-Christmas season to the season of Lent.

Epiphanytide ended rather abruptly less than ten days ago, and Lent has suddenly arrived with the first snowdrops. The wilderness season is upon us wrapped into the season of gestation and first growth. In this particular wilderness season, the one which presages ultimate and eternal life, we are obliged to think about what must come first, which is death.

Tank firing bibles

Naturally, the Evangelical Alliance has defended itself against Jayne Ozanne’s critique of its teaching, especially in the light of the recent survey by the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service on the prevalence of spiritual abuse.

But the defence fails. I focus on the EA’s main argument: that the term ‘spiritual abuse’ is inadequate because abuse is about actions, not motives. In this way they seek to insulate their teachings from the actions those teachings sometimes provoke. On the contrary, abusive beliefs lead to abusive actions.

The General Synod of the Church of England meets at the end of this week. Among the items they will discuss is a paper proposing closer ties – not quite union – between the Methodist Church and the Church of England.

The predictable lines have been drawn well ahead of the debate: on the one hand it is important to take these steps to ‘heal a wound’ in the Body of Christ; and on the other hand, this small act would debase the currency of ‘apostolic order’. Both of these are wrong.