Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am offering a prize (well maybe just a “shout-out” in church) for the first person who identifies the miistake in my Feb 25 letter. You will need the email version of it rather than the website version (you can work out why).
Bishop Robert’s weekly letters come to hand early on Sunday mornings and I cannot give them my attention before service begins, such is the time difference between western Canada and here. His last letter dated 1st March 2021 was so important that I have been moved to publish it on the website. I hope I am not out of order in publishing it without his specific permission (+Robert please let me know if you want me to remove it from the site). It can be found through the “Letters File” link. Do please read it. You should know where the site is by now but you can see the url later in the letter, as usual.
I am moved to report an encouraging sign in the world of the judiciary.
This is important because in recent times it seems to the mind of a believing Christian that the judiciary has been getting things significantly wrong. I will first describe briefly WHAT, in my opinion, they have been getting wrong, and then WHY, in my view, these errors have been made.
WHAT they have been getting wrong is the scope of “rights” that as just judges they are bound to protect. Take for example, the issues of a right affecting the life of a human being and any legal right constitutionally protected to marry. In my opinion, when somebody comes to court pleading for themselves a “right” to these and other things, the court must also take into account the appellant's “duty” that inheres in any such “right”, to uphold the rights of others who are affected by the exercise of the appellant’s “right”.
Therefore, if those expecting a baby have a “right”, they have also a “duty” and the first consideration of any court must be about that “duty” to protect any life that depends upon them.
And therefore likewise, if those hoping to expand the age-old legal and constitutional protections of marriage for themselves were to claim this as a “right” for themselves, the first consideration of any court must be about that “duty” that any real right carries with it to protect the society in which the “right" is expected to take place.
WHY they have been getting these matters wrong is that while the biblical pattern of relationships is covenantal - rights are granted along with imposed duties, when a society forgets and disposes of its godly, biblical and covenantal roots, it adopts a framework of society that is incomplete and unworkable. And we have heard both lawyerly and political talking heads saying recently that “God-language” in both courts and political assemblies is unacceptable. Well …. then what should we expect?
So what is the "encouraging sign in the world of the judiciary”? It is that the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has made a recent ruling on the clear basis that an appellant’s claim to a “right” had been falsified by the clear contravention of the “duty” that the claimed right would naturally carry with it. Here, at last, is a judicial decision on “rights” that is logically and biblically sound.
May we pray that this is not an isolated incident but the external sign of an underlying sea-change: that, in words by the great author and scholar C.S. Lewis, “Aslan is on the move.”
The Collect for next week, the week of the Third Sunday in Lent, will be
We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
and of course following this will be the Ash Wednesday Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Lent 3 Collect acknowledges “hearty desires” - our heart-felt desires as we might say - and in petitioning Almighty God to “look upon” them, sees them as within the scope of a prayer, rather than seeing them as things to be repressed or ignored. The Lord is besought to be aware of all our deepest longings and then to exercise His capacity to touch them and us with “the right hand” of His “Majesty”. Heal them, correct them even, but never ignore them or cover them up, or pretend that they are not there. But … when He does so He will act to defend us against ALL our enemies, whoever or whatever they may be. Our “enemies" may be those numan or spiritual influences that can turn our heartfelt desires into something destructive or dangerous, and we are assured that the Lord will Himself respond to our prayer to be defended from any such thing.
So also let us pray indeed - heartily - to be “defended” from false judgments and decisions that test and challenge the integrity of our legislatures and law-courts. May God indeed stretch forth His right hand!
For directions about the services this Sunday the 7th March, please see the website www.truthwithlanguage.com. The usual “first Sunday of the month” arrangements are in place.
In the great and holy Name of the Lord Jesus,