a priest's musings on the journey
Sunday, July 20, 2008
20 July, 2008 Lambeth Conference Eucharist Sermon by the Rt. Rev. Duleep De Chickera, Anglican Bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka
We gather in this impressive awesome magnificent cathedral as
representatives of several nations, several cultures, several tongues
and as representatives of several Christian denominations and other
living faiths. This is a joyful and a sacred moment. And I would like
to suggest that we keep a pause in our worship to express our
gratitude to God for all those responsible for shaping our Anglican
identity, for nourishing our spirituality and for helping in the
formation of our common life through the centuries and in many parts
of the world.
The ninth verse of the twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians. “My grace is
sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul is confessing and proclaiming the paradox of grace in the
Christian gospel. It is as we increasingly recognise and acknowledge
our vulnerability in our journey of discipleship in Christ and with
Christ that we receive grace to be and to become faithful disciples.
I want you to hold on to this text because it is the idea that will
undergird our thinking through the rest of this reflection. The
recognition of our vulnerability makes growth possible in Christian
There are two realities that encompass us as we meet as a world
family of the Anglican Communion. I would like to draw your
attention to both these realities without which our conference and
our forward journey will become meaningless.
Our world is torn and divided. Bishops are expected to bring their
dioceses with them to the Lambeth conference. Bishops whose dioceses
strive to be faithful through the challenges that come through God’s
word will bring along with their dioceses the pains, injustices,
struggle , evil, and hostility that men and women encounter in
today’s world. It is true saying that God gives the church an agenda
out of the crises of the world. And so my dear sisters and brothers
in Christ, the world Anglican Communion must always give the highest
priority to participate with Christ in transforming God’s world. To
bring healing, peace, justice, reconciliation and abundant life where
there is oppression hostility, and strife.
This concept of the world in pain must run through this conference
for the conference to receive the energy and spirituality of our
church. No other priority can contend for that place. God has called
us and placed us in God’s world so that we might participate with him
in bringing this transformation.
The second reality is that we are a wounded community. Some of us are
not here. And that is an indication that all is not well. Certainly
the crisis is complex. It is not a conflict that can be resolved
instantly. The journey ahead is a long and arduous one, that will
demand our prayers and faithfulness, our mutual trust in each other
and of course our trust in God who makes reconciliation possible.
I would like to draw your attention to the parable read as the
gospel. The words of the master were: let them grow together, there
must be no uprooting, simply because if we attempt this game of
uprooting the unrighteous, none of us will remain. We are all a mix
of the wheat and the weeds. The wisdom of these words suggests that
we stay together because we have grown from a common soil, tradition,
and heritage. We are what we are regardless of our differences.
Transformation comes in this interaction and transformation must come
In Jaffna a church is being converted into a centre for conflict
reconciliation and peace: Christ Church Jaffna. It has been
renovated. Something is emerging, an agenda for peace and
reconciliation in this place. We have decided to retain the marks and
scars on the wall of this church. Transformation comes from within.
The old gradually converts as men and women pray and talk and
dialogue and disagree as we must. Disciples of Jesus stay together
and journey together.
There are three challenges to leave with us as we address the
objectives of this Lambeth Conference. To strengthen our Anglican
identity, and to enable bishops to be leaders in God’s mission.
Here are three thoughts that could contribute to identity and
mission. First, our communion must return to the discipline and
practice of self-scrutiny. We have a rich tradition that supports
this discipline: the retreat, the quiet time, contemplation,
spiritual counsellors. All of which enhance the practice and
discipline of men and women coming to God in stillness to evaluate
and examine their lives. The parable of the plank and the speck of
dust. Christ calls us to be hard on ourselves and calls us to
consider him only as our measure and our standard. So we stand and
evaluate our ourselves in relation to the fulness and the abundance
of life in Jesus. Then when shortcomings are detected we work with
the Spirit to overcome, to grow, to become beautiful and faithful in
the eyes of Christ. The standard is always Christ. It is not that
bishop who is giving you trouble or archdeacon whose theology always
irritates you. Self scrutiny is possible in the Christian journey as
we stand naked before Jesus the Christ.
The second challenge that I would to leave with you is one we would
like to declare again and again. The challenge of unity in diversity.
As I look around and see you I see this wonderful unity in diversity.
When the sacrament is administered, lips from numerous countries and
nationalities will touch the same cup. We are united in support of
the fact we are different in Christ , we are equal. There is enough
to go around if none will be greedy. Here my sisters and brothers is
an insight of what the church is called to be. an inclusive communion
where there is space equally for everyone and anyone, regardless of
colour, gender, sexual orientation, ability. Unity in diversity is a
cherished Anglican tradition a spirituality which we must reinforce
in all humility for the sake of Christ and Christ’s gospel.
The third challenge that I have for you is that of the prophetic
book. It is not complete unless we address and deal with the
injustice of the world. And so the world Anglican Communion must
articulate this prophetic voice regardless of where we serve in the
world. Now as many of you will be aware, the prophetic voice has two
strands, and it is imperative that these two strands are held
together. First the prophetic voice is the voice of the voiceless.
There are those who for political, cultural, economic, and military
reasons cannot speak for themselves. Or if they do, they do so at
tremendous peril. And so the Anglican Communion must speak on their
behalf, whether it be on the crisis in Sri Lanka, in Zimbabwe, in
Sudan, or Afghanistan, or Iran. The voiceless must be given a voice
through the leadership of the Anglican Communion.
The second strand which goes with a voice for the voiceless is the
calling into accountability of those who abuse power. To
authoritarian regimes who oppress and suppress the people the
prophetic voice will ask pertinent and relevant questions. Two other
comments about the prophetic tradition. In a sense the prophetic
voice is monotonous. It is the same thing as long as the problem
remains. And so you do not need to worry that you are not saying
anything new. Relentless monotony.
Then there is no self interest in the prophetic voice. We speak for
justice and order in Gods world and and we speak on behalf of those
who cannot speak for themselves.
I want to conclude by quoting one of my favourite archbishops. Not
Rowan Williams as yet. Archbishop William Temple who once said hat
the church is the one institution that does not live for itself. My
dear sisters and brothers as we move from this wonderful retreat
through this beautiful eucharist into our conference, let us hold on
to these words. Here is the crux of Anglican identity and
spirituality. We do not live for ourselves, and all our gifts are to
be directed towards abundant life for the other.
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 11:39 AM
"abundant life for the other"...nice.