It was after half past ten at night, it had been a long day and we sat drinking tea at the kitchen table. It is the Church of Ireland General Synod in Armagh next week, something that has greater appeal in one part of our family than it does in others. There had been discussion about the business before the synod.
“I am wondering about whether to vote for the Anglican Covenant.”
“I am wondering about Rob Kearney”.
“The Leinster and Ireland fullback – I am wondering what Leinster are going to do when he returns to the team. Isa Nacewa has been brilliant at fullback’.
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“What’s the Anglican Covenant got to do with anything?”
“So is Rob Kearney. In fact, far more people in my parish would be concerned about Rob Kearney than they would about some church agreement that has nothing to do with them”.
“You don’t take things seriously”.
“No, the problem is that the church doesn’t take people seriously”.
The Anglican Covenant is about Anglican churches agreeing to agree with each other on matters of discipline, but, with each church being self-governing and independent, the Covenant has no binding powers and those on both sides who have gone their own way will continue to do so and no vote anywhere is going to make any difference.
More seriously, preoccupation with such matters is a further excuse for church leaders to ignore the realities of what is happening under their own noses. While they compose lengthy discourses on Anglican Communion matters, they remain silent on the gross immorality of taking money from the weakest and the most vulnerable in Irish society to pay the gambling debts of the banks. While they engage in synodical procedures, they ignore the fact that most of their churches are empty, that many people have long given up on the idea that the church might have any relevance to their lives.
A church that cannot speak to people who would know who Rob Kearney was, but who would have little idea who Rowan Williams might be, has lost sight of the ministerial style of Jesus of Nazareth. They have forgotten that the incarnation was about God coming down to be with the ordinary folk.
Jesus would have been able to name the full Leinster team, though, with his preference for those more on the edge, he would probably have been a Munster fan.