Sunday, 24 February 2013

Schrodinger's Cat Theology? Response to Women Bishops Consultation


Response to GS Misc 1042

Women in the Episcopate: A New Way Forward

Thank you for the discussion paper GS Misc 1042, and for the time and energy that has been put into restarting the process towards removing the legal obstacles to women becoming bishops. I shall group my responses firstly in relation to the four propositions, and then give some more general observations.

1.1 I agree with the first proposition, that there is no scope for further tweaking of the measure that was defeated in November.

1.2 I am very relieved to see that this conclusion has been reached as a result of the consultations this month. I, and the many other women (both lay and ordained) who have been in touch with me as Chair of WATCH NE, feel that we had in fact compromised too much in that measure. We were fearful that further tweaks would be proposed, compromising the purpose of the legislation even further. I cannot see any way in which the defeated legislation can be further adapted in a way that would be acceptable to both those who do and dont wish to see women admitted to the episcopate.

1.3 Whilst I would like to see women admitted to the episcopate as soon as possible, my main concern at this point is that the sense of urgency should not mean we rush into unwise legislation.

2. 1 I also endorse the second proposition, that questions around jurisdiction should not be re-opened.

2.2 Having women as bishops is not an end in itself. It is a necessary but not sufficient means to the end of demonstrating, by our ordering of our church, that the Church of England believes men and women to be equally and jointly made in the image of God, and to be theologically in the same category.There is, therefore, simply no point in allowing women to be bishops on different terms to men, or in redefining what a bishop is in order to let women in. That would not be 'removing the legal obstacles to women becoming bishops', it would be only allowing women to dress up like bishops whilst retaining a separate class of 'real' bishops. I would prefer us not to enact any legislation at all than to enshrine discrimination in law, which is why I would have voted against the proposals that were before Synod in July 2012.

3.1 I also think there is a good deal of wisdom in the third proposition, that the whole 'deal' should be on the table at one time. I hope very much that this will in fact be a simple matter, as a single clause or similar measure (as has been used in every other Province of the Anglican Communion) should be all that is needed.

3.2 But whether or not that point is accepted, I do agree that the uncertainty surrounding the prospect of an unseen Code of Practice was very unhelpful in debating the defeated legislation. Certainly in my experience of going to Deanery Synod debates about the legislation, with Sr. Anne Williams, we found that this uncertainty about the Code caused the most disquiet, regardless of peoples views on the substance of the proposals.

4. 1 I am instinctively drawn to the first part of the final proposition, suggesting shorter, simpler legislation. Anything other than a simple statement that both women and men can have a vocation to the episcopate inevitably clouds the statement of equality before God that is the primary purpose of this legislation. However, brevity is a means rather than an end. I would prefer lengthier legislation that spelled out equality, to a brief measure that enshrined discrimination.

4.1.1 I also note that several years ago, simple legislation (popularly known as a single clause measure) was the preferred option of Forward in Faith as well as groups such as WATCH. I remember being asked by New Directions to write an article explaining why I supported a Single Clause Measure, just as they did, but for different reasons. At the time I recall suggesting that perhaps they wanted a Single Clause Measure because they thought it would be more easily defeated, but I was assured that it was because it was the only theologically coherent way forward. I hope, therefore, that such support for this proposition is reflected in the responses you receive to this consultation.

4.2 The second part of the fourth proposition is less clear than the others, and there are two elements of it which I think are dangerous: the references to a sense of security, and to no new elements of compromise.

4.2.1 First, whilst I accept that 'a greater sense of security....[of] an accepted and valued place in the Church of England' for those who do not accept the ordination of women is desirable, I do not agree that this is a viable aim for this legislation. There are three reasons for this.

4.2.2 How can we measure a 'sense of security', or whether it has been achieved?
It can only ever be measured by whether those involved say it has been given. This raises several subsequent concerns.

4.2.3 Those opposed to the ordination of women are by no means a homogenous group, so does every individual need to feel more secure? Or just a majority of the minority?

4.2.4 More fundamentally, at least some people demonstrably oppose women's ordination on theological grounds that are at best mistaken, and at worst heretical. I refer you, for example, to the speech in November's debate which argued that women should be subordinate to men based on a supposed inherent subordination within the Trinity: a view clearly beyond the bounds of orthodox Christian belief. So if we are to aim for a 'sense of security' of being 'accepted and valued' within the Church of England, we need to be very clear indeed that it is the people who hold these views who are 'accepted and valued', not the views themselves. Or, if certain views contrary to the mainstream doctrine of the Church are to be declared 'accepted and valued', then we need to be very clear indeed which ones these are. Surely the purpose of this legislation cannot be to assure everyone, whatever their idiosyncratic views on creation, the Trinity, the Bible, or whatever else underlies their belief that women cannot be ordained, that those views are all necessarily 'accepted and valued'?

4.2.5 It is also perhaps worth saying that we, as women clergy, would also value a sense of security. The debate so far has consistently given the impression that the emotions of those pained by our ordination are privileged above our emotions. We are apparently meant to be so grateful to be allowed to be ordained, that should be enough. Yet the majority of women will not, of course, become bishops: most do not have that vocation.  Simply allowing a few women, grudgingly, to be bishops will not of itself make all lay and ordained women feel fully 'accepted and valued' within the Church of England. We would like our theological worth and equal status as children of God to be fully affirmed. It may be that this is fundamentally incompatible with those who do not agree that this is the case also feeling fully affirmed. If so, the Church will have to choose which is the more important statement to make.

4.2.6 Furthermore, in saying that we want to achieve a 'sense of security', we are reliant entirely on those who do not want this legislation to be passed to inform us of what they deem to be acceptable. A personal anecdote may illustrate why I think this is a foolish way to proceed. Last autumn, when the 'Appleby Amendment' was published, I spoke with many members of Synod, both for and against the principle of women's ordination. In one long conversation with a member of the Catholic Group in Synod, he told me that the Group had discussed the legislation and had agreed that they could neither vote for the legislation, nor abstain, because the first clause said that women could be bishops. They could, however, live with it if passed, he said. Others will have heard similar comments.
Yet none of the Catholic Group in Synod ever said publicly that they could live with this legislation if passed, despite intending to vote against it, a statement which may well have influenced some uncertain voters to vote in favour. Nor did they make it clear that whatever the 'provisions', they would vote against the legislation because it said women could be ordained. I cannot see how it would ever be in the interests of those who genuinely do not believe that women can or should be ordained to admit that yes, they have been given a 'greater sense of security' by new proposals. Simply by saying that they dont feel secure, the status quo of the current impasse would be maintained.
I therefore think that this is an illusory goal for this legislation to aim at.

4.3. I am deeply concerned about the final part of proposition 4b, 'not involving...any new elements of compromise on matters of principle' (my emphasis). The members of WATCH NE who have been in touch with me about this matter have been unanimous that they now feel that the defeated legislation went too far in compromising the essential matters of principle involved. All of them, and the vast majority of other clergy and laity in this diocese with whom I have spoken, feel that since the compromise offered in November was rejected, only the simplest possible legislation will now do. I would be deeply disturbed to think that elements of compromise offered last year in the spirit of a bilateral stretching a hand over the abyss were to be taken as the basis on which new legislation could be built.
Again and again in recent months, clergy and laity have said to me that, after the first shock of the legislation being defeated, they felt their eyes had been opened to just how much of a dirty compromise it had been. 'Appeasement' is a word that has been used. Since we were not met half way those opposed to womens ordination have made no compromises, in the final outcome - the mood is no longer to offer those compromises that were rejected. So I would be minded to accept this element of the proposition only with the deletion of the word 'new', italicised in my quotation above.

5.1 Following on from point 4.3.5 above, I wonder if the only way to resolve the current impasse is to destabilise it. Those who are fundamentally opposed to the ordination of women are currently relatively happy with the status quo, and have no incentive to change it. One creative way forward, therefore, would be to change the status quo.

5.2 This could most simply be achieved by allowing General Synod to debate, in July, the currently parked Diocesan Synod motions asking General Synod to rescind the 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.
This would test the mind of Synod on whether the Act of Synod is still fit for purpose. If it were rescinded, we would then be able to live out the experiment of how we get on as a church without what is widely perceived to be a legislative safeguard. It would be a relatively low-risk experiment, as it would be fairly straightforward for the Synod to reenact a similar piece of legislation if it were in fact found to be necessary. But if we were able to find ways of living and working together without such a Code of Practice, that would put us in a much better position to find a new way forward together.

5.2.1 At the same time, allowing these motions to be debated would go some way to restoring trust in the synodical process among Diocesan Synods. One of the most damaging side effects of the stalling of the legislative process in November was the fact that the Diocesan Synods felt ignored and sidelined by the process, having been asked their opinions and then ignored. Rushing to start another central process and telling those Diocesan Synods who have been waiting patiently for years for their motion to be debated that they are once again to be ignored, would be both rude and a lost opportunity.

5.3 One other solution that has been canvassed has been rescinding the relevant clauses of the 1992 Measure, and leaving some parts of it intact. I do not believe this is a good way forward.

5.3.1 I have spent some time analysing the initially attractive simply delete clause 1.2 of the 1992 measure option. (Nothing in this Measure shall make it lawful for a woman to be consecrated to the office of bishop). At first glance this possibility has the advantage of simplicity, and of leaving largely intact a package of provisions that those who are opposed can manifestly already live with. However, it is more complex than it at first appears.

5.3.2 In the first place, it would not be enough to simply delete clause 1.2 of the Measure. Clause 2 would also need to be deleted (this clause has never in fact been used, and is a dead letter since it deals with dioceses being officially free of women clergy, which none now are).

5.3.3 Clause 3, allowing parishes to pass either Resolutions A or B, could in theory be retained. However, whilst this might satisfy congregationally-minded parishes who simply wish to avoid having a woman incumbent, it would, when there was a female diocesan bishop, be meaningless for those whose objection to women bishops is based on an ecclesiology in which the local priests ministry is derived from that of the bishop. It would also not cater for those who wish to ensure they have a male priest with a male pedigree (i.e., not ordained by a bishop who is a woman). So in fact this would presumably need to be re-written, and we would end up with something not dissimilar to the legislation that was defeated in November (which proposition 1 says is not workable).

5.3.4 Clause 6 of the Measure, which covers the discriminatory discharge of certain functions, would also need to be removed. Clause 6 explicitly says that sex discrimination against a woman in respect of ordination, licensing or appointments is legal. This is of questionable legality following the most recent Equality Act. It is also inconsistent with the various pronouncements of the House of Bishops that the appointments processes will be blind to peoples views on this matter.

5.3.5. Even if all these changes were made to the Measure, and it simply said that women could be ordained and that parishes could choose to opt out of having us as their priest (but not their bishop), the question remains what would happen with the Act of Synod. It would not work in its current form, but it is hard to believe that tweaking it would lead to a better result than the legislation that was rejected in November (which was essentially an attempt at just this). So essentially this route is ruled out if we accept the first proposition of GS Misc 1042.

5.4 Moreover, my experience of the process so far has made it much clearer, to my mind, that this is the time for the Church of England to say that any notion that womens orders are still in some sense provisional (the notion of a period of reception) is at an end.
Ordination is ordination. Whatever individual people may believe about the desirability, or validity, of womens ordination, the Church of England, by ordaining women, has made a public statement that it is a church that ordains women. As a church we enact as much as declare our theology, and in ordaining women we have made clear that is our orthopraxy, our orthodoxy.

5.5 There is no integrity in a Church ordaining women and then trying to hold together, at an institutional level, the belief that we both are and are not ordained. This is Schrodingers Cat theology: are women both ordained and not ordained simultaneously until someone lifts the lid of the box to see? And is our state of ordination then determined by the beliefs of the beholder?
Individuals are free to believe that I am not ordained. And an individual believing that is of course as accepted and valued by God, and by the Church of England, as anyone else. But the Church of England has ordained me, and cant therefore enact with integrity the view that I might not be ordained.

5.6 I believe that much of our current impasse is a result of the muddled theology that led to the hasty passing of the Act of Synod, without anything like the scrutiny and consultation that every other step of this journey has undergone. The Act of Synod opened the way to rejecting the ministry of your diocesan bishop based on his beliefs, and that was a profoundly un-Anglican and certainly un-Catholic innovation. There must be no repetition of this in any new way forward.

5.7 Finally, I reiterate the point made above, that simple legislation opening the episcopate to women and men without any qualification or formal arrangements for those opposed to this move has been enacted in every relevant province of the Anglican Communion. I cannot see any reason why the case of the Church of England need be more complicated or more compromised. There is considerable experience among Anglican bishops overseas in managing the resulting tensions carefully and gracefully, and the group would do well to consult this body of available expertise.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Book Review: 'The Church's Other Half''

The Church’s Other Half: Women’s Ministry   
Trevor Beeson
SCM Press, 2011

Review commissioned for the Journal of Anglican Studies, forthcoming.

It has been a poignant experience reviewing this book at a time when the Church of England has failed to finish the job, charted here, of recognising men and women as equal by opening the episcopate to them. Trevor Beeson points out, in his conclusion, that ‘it will be necessary for men in positions of leadership to listen carefully, humbly and positively to what their women colleagues may propose’. It seems, however, that members of the Church of England are not yet capable of this, or willing to do it. Beeson’s warning that ‘men will not find it easy to relinquish power’ rings as true today as ever.

Beeson begins this very readable book with a romp through the history of women’s ministry, and the development of theologies which served to exclude and oppress women. This section covers a great deal of ground very quickly, discussing the biblical record, the early church and the medieval church. Much of this will be familiar except to those coming new to this topic, but it is helpful to have it gathered together in so succinct and accessible a form. Beeson then summarises the more recent history of debates surrounding women’s ordination, from the late nineteenth century to the decision of General Synod in 2010 to send legislation to open the episcopate to women to diocesan synods for their approval. The book is well researched, and includes material that was new even to this seasoned campaigner on this issue.

It is salutary to be reminded of the long history of the movement for women’s equal representation in the church. Beeson does not limit his story to specifically ministerial roles for women. Since many were unable to have their gifts used within the Church structures, they instead used their talents and energies in many and varied ways, and it is refreshing to have such variety acknowledged. The central section of the book consists of a series of chapter length biographies of notable women, beginning with a chapter on Florence Nightingale. She of course is rightly famous for her great contribution to raising nursing standards in the Crimean war: but originally wanted to work for the Church. She wrote to Dean Stanley of Westminster Abbey ‘I would have given her [the Church] my head, my hand, my heart. She did not know what to do with them’.

Other chapters tell the stories, for example, of Octavia Hill and Henrietta Barnett, working to improve housing conditions for the urban poor of Victorian England; of Mary Sumner and the founding of the Mothers’ Union; of Cecil Francis  Alexander and other hymn-writers; and of Josephine Butler and her campaigns to improve the safety and prospects of women caught in prostitution.

The story of the journey towards women’s ordained ministry begins with the rediscovery of the role of deaconesses in the modern church, first in Germany and then with the appointment of Elizabeth Ferard and Isabella Gilmore as the first deaconesses in the Church of England.

But the clear star of Beeson’s account is Maude Royden. He writes: ‘If a patron saint of women’s ordained ministry in the Church of England is ever required, the choice will have to be Maude Royden. A woman of vision and of remarkable gifts of leadership and communication, she had outstanding courage’. Maude read History in Oxford, but was not allowed to graduate because of her sex. She was closely involved in the campaign for female suffrage, and became pulpit assistant at the City Temple in 1917, her preaching creating a popular and media sensation. Women were not permitted to speak in Church of England churches, pending the results of a committee set up in 1916 to report on the matter, but in September 1918 Royden gave a midweek address at St Botolphs Bishopsgate, and led the Good Friday three hour service despite the bishop’s protests (which succeeded only in moving the service out of church and into the parish hall). She then, with Percy Dearmer, founded an early form of Fresh Expression, known as ‘The Guildhouse’, which attracted a congregation of hundreds for the next two decades. She was also well known as an itinerant preacher and speaker, notably on the side of the coal miners in the 1926 strike, and campaigned for women’s ordination all her life.

Further chapters recount the continuing struggle for women’s full acceptance within the official structures of the Church. Again, this was much a much wider issue than simply ordination. At the turn of the twentieth century, women were deliberately excluded from the membership of PCCs, and from deanery and diocesan synods. In a debate on whether women could be elected to the newly formed PCCs, in 1898, ‘the Archdeacon of Exeter expressed his belief that women were not made by God to engage in public discussion...another archdeacon was of the opinion that “the most truly feminine women would refuse to seek office”, and that others who were elected would make the councils “weak instruments in public affairs.”’ In 1903 an early forerunner of General Synod was formed, the Church Representative Council, and women were neither permitted to be members nor to vote for the lay delegates. Women’s full participation in the structures of the Church of England has been a very slow and hard won process, resented at every step of the way.

The final chapters give potted biographies of some of the most outstanding women currently serving the Church, and a whistle-stop tour of key trends and voices in modern feminist theology. As with the historical material, this latter is a useful introduction to the subject and a convenient gathering together of material that it is often hard to find in one place.

So this is a useful and very readable book, with some fascinating stories and some enjoyably appalling quotes from the ghosts of misogyny past. Nevertheless, it is a melancholy read. Repeatedly, the biographies of these great women end with them in failing health, mentally and physically exhausted by the combination of their hard work for the people of God, and their constant battles to be allowed to serve, speak or even exist as women in the Church. As the Church of England gathers it energies, wearily, to again tackle the question of allowing women to become bishops, Beeson’s history reminds us of the forebears on whose shoulders we stand, and of the debt we owe them to get this right.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Contemplation: Psalm 1

My sermon notes for the first in our benefice sermon series for Lent, Wisdom from the Psalms.

Psalm 1
Can be sung to any 8686 tune (suggested: Richmond)

O blessed, blessed is the one
Whose walk is out of step
With wickedness and mockery
Who does not sit with sin.

O blessed, blessed is the one
Who hears God with delight
Who day and nightly contemplates
The law and love of God.

That one is like a fruitful tree
Whose roots stretch deep and firm.
Its planted by a living stream
Whose waters never fail.

Its leaves stay green in hottest drought
Its roots remain secure
And in due season blossom blooms
And fruits grow ripe for all.

The wicked are like fallen leaves
Tossed all ways by the wind
They cannot stand when judgement comes
Not rooted in the Lord.

I love this image of contemplating God, contemplating the Bible, being like a tree planted by a spring. A spring whose waters don't fail or dry up even in the hottest summer; the roots of the tree have stretched down and found a source of water that is always reliable, and so the tree flourishes.

First, think of those roots, as an image of contemplation. They grow down and seek out the water, and then drink it up, without any particular effort. They aren't working hard or doing something difficult, they are just doing what comes naturally.

The water - God - is there. The roots don't have to summon it by an effort of will, or do anythingbin particular to be worthy of it. They are just there, in the right place, being themselves. And the water is ther, being itself.

We dont have to work hard at contemplation, just be there, present with the text, drinking it in. The water is there; contemplation is being where it is. The refreshment happens naturally.

Contemplation may not be something we are very used to as a method of prayer or as a way of approaching the Bible. We might think of it as something that only particularly holy people do, monks and nuns perhaps. But is something we all do in the other contexts, so we know we can manage it.
Imagine, for example, being on holiday. You have a caravan or a cottage overlooking the sea, the curve of the bay. You arrange your deckchair so you have a lovely view over the bay, and just sitting there drinking in the view - the sound of the sea, perhaps the occasional seagull, the smell of the salt air, the softness of the warmth around you - for maybe twenty minutes or half an hour.

You feel totally relaxed, restored. Then, after half an hour you may want to do various things. You may want to carry on sitting there all day. You may want to keep sitting there, but go and get your knitting or crossword or novel as well. You might want to go down into the view, to go for a walk on the beach or have a swim. Or if you're like me, you might think thats quite enough sitting around and you want to get up and head into town to see the sights or visit an improving museum.

All these are OK! Contemplation feeds you, gives you energy to do other things. You aren't expected to do it all day, or not do other things too. The psalm makes the point that the tree image also include seasonality: bearing fruit in due season. The watering of the tree is not simply so it feels happy and content, but results, at times, in its bearing fruit.

So this is what contemplation is like: just being there with the view (God, a Bible passage), drinking it in. It isn't an effort of will, and it doesn't necessarily result in particularly holy feelings or actions, at least not immediately. It just is.

This is what Jesus was doing in the desert. So he is so deeprooted in the scriptures, after 40 days of just being with God, that not even those spectacular temptations can shake him. Or, in the coming weeks, a crowd threatening to throw him off a cliff: or the reality of his crucifixion.

The final image in the psalm contrasts that rootedness with chaff: or, in my paraphrase, fallen leaves. The contrast is with waste material, light, blown by the wind. With many a conflict tossed about, in the words of the hymn. The contrast isn't primarily between those who do and don't sin, but those who are and aren't deep rooted. The wind blows everyone, and the wisdom of this psalm is that we should seek to be deep rooted, anchored in and fed by the contemplation of God.

Wisdom is presented here not as having the right answers, or even doing the right things, but having your roots in the right place.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Snowdrop Saturday

Come and see the beautiful snowdrops that carpet St. Laurence's churchyard!
They are growing well, so if you are anywhere near Durham put this date in your diary now:

2nd March 2013
11am – 2pm

Tea, coffee & cakes

See the historic 12th century wall paintings dating from around the time of King Richard 'the Lion Heart'

12pm & 1pm: Presentation on "Saint Laurence's Church in its landscape"

Explore this wonderful historic church, see the tomb of the mason who crafted its Norman arches (and Durham Cathedral's Galilee Chapel), learn about planned repairs to the fabric of the church.

Photographic display.

See for further details.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mardi Gras Eucharist

This weekend - the last Sunday before Lent - St Mary Magdalen Belmont ran a Carnival Weekend. On Saturday, we had an All Age Activity Morning (10-12), and then on Sunday our main service was an All Age Carnival Eucharist.
This was something I've been thinking about doing for some years: I wrote an article for the Church Times in, I think, 2007 saying that this would be a good way to mark the contrast between feast and fast. I tried something similar in my final year of my curacy, at All Saints Heaton, which had a longstanding tradition of excellent holiday clubs started by a previous curate (Rick Simpson, now IME tutor in Durham Diocese).

On the activity morning, which was run rather like a Messy Church session, we had 6 activities, all linked by bright colours:

Colouring 'stained glass windows' (from the Yellow Moon catalogue)
Decorating biscuits (always a perennial Messy Church favourite!)
Making bunting (cutting out triangles of fabric, and I took my sewing machine over and helped them each have a go at sewing them onto the bias binding tape. This was VERY popular!)
Beading: making bracelets/necklaces/keyrings
Hand painting in an old sheet to make an altar frontal
Making paper flowers with the church flower ladies, and decorating the church with them.

At the end of the morning, the church was filled with colour. Most dramatic were the altar frontal and the bunting.

On the Sunday, we used our normal Common Worship Ordinary Time liturgy, but with a few specially written bits. These were on the pewsheet and a powerpoint for all to join in. The readings were those for the day, focused around the Transfiguration. We moved the confession to after the first two readings.

Prayer of Preparation:
God of celebration and silence,
Carnival and quiet, poverty and plenty,
We set this time apart for you.
Send your Holy Spirit on us,
To free our praise,
Inspire our prayer,
And transform our lives.

Almighty Father, whose son was revealed in dazzling light
And whose glory is revealed in all the colours of the rainbow,
Give us grace to see your glory
So that we may be changed to be like Jesus
Who with you and the Holy Spirit
Lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Readings: exodus 34:29-end
2 Cor 3:12-end

Prayers of Penitence:
For these, everyone had been given a scratch art carnival mask (again from the Yellow Moon catalogue. This was extravagant, at £3.60 per 10) as they entered church, to decorate as they waited for the service to begin. They were now asked to put on their masks, and after a brief introduction linking this with the readings we used this Kyrie confession:

We confess that we hide from each other,
behind masks of pride and achievement.
Lord have mercy.

We confess that we hide from you, Lord,
Behind masks of good works and reputation.
Christ, have mercy.

We confess that we hide from your call
Behind masks of possessions and comfort.
Lord, have mercy.

We then sang 'who put the colours in the rainbow?' as the gradual.
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36

This began with a short powerpoint of 12 different images of the transfiguration - modern, icons,old masters and traditional and modern stained glass. He sermon then drew together the themes of:
Bright colours of the rainbow, dazzling whiteness - images of glory
Veiling- nakedness - glory.
Christmas - lent -easter mirroring this pattern.
Lent as a time when we, like Jesus, strip away all that might stop God shining through us. The image of us as being like Stained glass windows - our own glorious colours and patterns sine best when the light of God shines through us.
Gods glory ideally shines through us, and we allow it and dont get in the way.
Lent a time for stripping away veils, masks - what do we do that gets in the way of God shining through us?
Thats why we give things up - not because God wants us to be miserable, but to see whether some things are getting in the way of God shining through us. In our society, being comfortable, looking good, impressing others, being well thought of.

Intercessions (were done by the Beavers)

Introduction to the Peace:
Meeting one another in peace and love, "All of us, with unveiled faces, see the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror".

Eucharistic prayer G

Communion was taken down to the pews and, starting from the back, passed along the rows.
Post communion prayer:
Holy God,
We see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ,
Made visible among us in bread and wine, and in each other.
May we, who have shared in this celebration,
Shine like him,
Reflecting your glory
In all that we do and say.

At the 8am BCP service the sermon was a version of the same thing, but the BCP service was otherwise unchanged. Even so, several people commented that having the church decorated made them think afresh about what we were doing, which was very satisfying!