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Archbishop Jonathan Blake

"SEEMS LIKE 'NO' IS NOT AN OPTION FOR YOU"


So replied an enquirer to me, asking whether it was possible to include a variety of special features in her wedding service, to which I had answered 'Yes' to all of them.

Throughout my independent ministry, freed from the shackles of the Church of England, it has been my joy and privilege, to be able to say YES to people's wishes, dreams and hopes.

From my early ministerial days, nearly 40 years ago, when society was so constrained and co-erced by Church and State to conform, to these more liberal days of greater individual choice and expression, I have been able to open the doors of possibilities and opportunities to thousands of people.



When the church, religion, dogma, prejudice, discrimination, flawed legislation and an intrusive state had slammed the door in their faces, with a brutal, unwavering, often judgemental 'NO', that had extinguished the candlelight of their dreams, denied their identities and realities, and rendered them hopeless, it has been my profound joy to say that simple word - 'YES.!'


Jesus was one of those who taught us, by his example, how to say 'YES' to people. How to approach things differently, see things in the alternative, spot the new horizons and find a way through the difficulties.


The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam pulses with the same message, finishing with this glorious verse affirming the desire to fulfil the aspirations of others, rather than to crush them:


And thou thyself, with shining feet shall pass

Among the guests, star scattered on the grass

And in thy joyous errand reach the spot

Where I made one turn down an empty glass


May we continue to learn, throughout our lives, how to be the sunlight that encourages growth in others. May we learn how to clear away all the unnecessary restrictions and 'No' obstacles that power brokers, frightened systems and protective monopolies place in the path of the innocent. May we be wise and confident in assessing, and if necessary challenging, the status quo, in every situation in which we find ourselves, to ensure that people are not being denied their best. And if it is not possible to trigger change and achieve reform from within, then be original, and offer a new way forward yourself.


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OPEN EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN IRELAND

“To say that God turns away from the sinful is like saying that the sun hides from the blind”

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