So what's been happening in the world, or at least the world as seen through the lens of this blog, in the last 12 months? Good question, thank you. Because it has been fascinating, even if not easy.
Life in the UK feels a bit downbeat. I avoid party political comment but it's not partisan to notice that the Government is struggling. We're told that the recession is over, and that economic policy is vindicated because we're all getting better off, but in real life everything still seems hard work. We're a country that is getting by, making the best of things, rather than one that's really enjoying life. The fact that almost all our politicians have adopted a rhetoric of threat, anxiety, and defensiveness only reinforces this. Hope seems to have disappeared from our public discourse.
Curiously, for the Church of England, things are looking up, or at least less down than they were. The advent of Archbishop Justin has been a breath of fresh air. The appointment of a financially literate Archbishop of Canterbury, coming so soon after the banking crisis, in which the Church became so spectacularly embroiled through the St Paul's affair, just seems to have worked. He had a good way in to the media, on which he has built and shown a happy knack for getting his message across without being misinterpreted or led into elephant traps. His leadership appears to steering us through the women bishops fiasco, which was threatening to destroy the Church completely. And he talks about Jesus all the time. Of course his predecessor did as well, but once again he seems to be able to make himself heard effectively. He's even made a start on cleansing the Augean Stables of church bureaucracy. Sorry if that sounds a bit crawly. I know he's not perfect, but he seems like the right man at the right time.
Talking of church bureaucracy, there's a lot happening in the internal workings of the ecclesiastical machine. Partly prompted by the aforementioned Archbishop, but partly as a belated reaction to changing times and circumstances, the way we do business as an organisation is being put under the microscope. This creates some tensions in an organisation that doesn't have a centralised chain of command, but the conversation is happening. This means we're seeing a surprisingly rapid culture change in the way the organisations of the church work. Watch this space.
So is there hope after all? I think so. But if there is, it's because we are plugged into the main supply of hope: "Jesus, who God raised from the dead", as Peter put it. There's a message worth hearing, in church, or anywhere.