Well, this has been a roller coaster of a day, probably the first of many here at Lambeth 2008. A really moving Sunday morning Eucharist at Canterbury Cathedral featured bishops in procession in totally random order with no real preference given to Primates or others, a wonderful Gospel procession with Melanesian brothers and sisters dancing the Gospel book placed in a model boat to be read by a young Black deacon, and an English choir actually pulling off the Mass setting in Latin to Congolese music with drums and rattles! Anglicanism at its best perhaps.
But the highlight was a masterful sermon by Bishop Duleep de Chickera of Colombo, Sri Lanka who daily faces down the barrel of a gun in persecution. He spoke of two over-riding issues – the need for the Church to confront issues of justice and peace in the wider world and the need for us to address the woundedness in our own Communion.
He said the first must be our priority but called for us to address the second by adopting the discipline of self examination and repentence (by heeding the Gospel imperative to be hard on ourselves and gentle with others — if we root up the unrighteous weeds in the field, none of us will survive, he said), by claiming the Anglican genius of unity in diversity, and by reclaiming or prophetic vision.
He concluded his sermon with a Buddhist chant, but one which offered the Archbishop and the Conference to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Spontaneous applause broke out at the conclusion of his sermon. It was deeply moving and came from deep in his soul.
Then, we returned to the University of Kent and got a briefing on the week. Reality returned. Anyone who thinks that we are “avoiding the hard issues” by our format did not hear Rowan, Ian Earnest of the Indian Ocean, and especially Clive Handford, chair of the Windsor Continuation Committee. We will spend hours and days dealing with our Communion-dividing issues, giving input into the draft Anglican Covenant, and sharing honestly in our “indaba” discussion groups. It will be excruciatingly painful work.
The difference is, we will not try to resolve these issues with a vote, but by continuing the discussion and being but one more step in the process. We are in for years of arduous work both our preacher today and the Archbishop have admitted.
The question is, do we have the will to engage the work…and the time left to complete it.
I pray that we do.