Sunday, 20 July 2008
News from the Big Blue Tent (4)
Today we raised queueing to an art form. From joining the queue for the bus to the cathedral at nine o’clock this morning to getting back off the bus at half past two I calculate I spent two hours in worship, half an hour in coach travel and three hours in queues. We queued to get on the coach, queued to get into the cathedral, queued to get out of the cathedral, queued to leave the precincts and queued for the coach to campus. Mercifully the people serving lunch had kindly stayed on way beyond the scheduled time, so we all got fed. But the crux is that these are not like the queues of the desperate outside a shop in some command economy nor the queues of the frustrated praying that a bus will stop. These are the queues of people who know that they will get where they’re going, and, although it will take some while, there’s some fascinating conversation to be had along the way with the strange assortment of people we find stood beside us. Maybe that’s a metaphor for the conference.
The cathedral service itself was splendid, both expectedly and unexpectedly. It was always going to be something special but in two places it excelled itself. The gospel procession, featuring melanesian religious carrying the book in a model boat whilst singing and dancing, will no doubt feature in everyone’s list of images from Lambeth 08. It was stunning. I hope the TV reports have focussed on that rather than processions of prelates. But equally amazing was the sermon preached by the Bishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Hardly using notes he reflected on the day’s lectionary gospel (the parable of the wheat and tares) and called us to three things: rigorous self-scrutiny, unity in diversity and prophetic ministry.
Hardly had lunch digested when we assembled in the tent for an explanation of the conference process. It builds on what has been most appreciated in previous conferences - the small bible study groups - and drops what has been least effective. The western pattern of resolutions and amendments is replaced by the indaba groups (5 bible study groups working together) and a robust process for collating the indaba discussions. Its a recipe to allow everyone to speak and be heard, rather than one that favours the politically astute, the most articulate and the accomplished manipulators. When Rowan rose to give a Presidential Address he got no more than a few words out before conference stood spontaneously to give him a prolonged ovation. He was visibly moved. For that matter, so was I.
Highlight of the day: that sermon
Lowlight of the day: hot water supply was dodgy again this morning
Posted by David Walker on
Sunday, 20 July 2008 at 7:34pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Big Blue Tent
| Lambeth Conference 2008
Living, as I do, in a far-flung part of the Anglican Communion (in New Zealand), it is great to read Bishop David Walker's comments on the daily activities at the Lambeth Conference.
What a wonderful demonstration of the diversity of our Church: to feature the Melanesian Brothers trasporting the Book of the Gospels in a canoe. It reminds one of the love with which the Martyred Bishop John Patteson delivered the Good News of the Gospel to the Melanesian Islanders - not so very long ago. His martyrdom was described as the action of one whose life was taken by those for whom he would have willingly given it!
And those Indaba Groups! Why on earth do not the African Christians of the Global South use this mode of discussion to tease out the inclusivity of the Gospel in their own territories? Perhaps their bishops and archbishops are not ready to include their clergy and laity in the discussion.
The Bishop of Colombo has put his finger on the need for diversity in cultural perceptions of our common human sexuality and gender issues. God happened to have made us all so very different. Perhaps the reality of our differences may be God's way of contextualising the need to exercise the grace of the Beattitudes enjoined on the infant Church by Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, the Pope has been apologising for the more serious problems of sexual predation among it's priests here in the Southern Hempisphere.
Why does not the world see predation as the real sexual problem - both in the Church and the world? Gays are not all sexual predators; as are not all heterosexuals. When will the distinction be made? Let's hope that Lambeth will be open to real dialogue on these issues.
"The gospel procession, featuring melanesian religious carrying the book in a model boat whilst singing and dancing, will no doubt feature in everyone’s list of images from Lambeth 08. It was stunning."
Interestingly, several of the masses at World Youth Day in Sydney (w/ the Pope) have featured something similar.
"The Bishop of Colombo has put his finger on the need for diversity in cultural perceptions of our common human sexuality and gender issues."
Up to a point.
But we must be very careful not to dismiss the plight and struggle of our African lgbt brothers and sisters by leaving them to their fate in African prisons because of our acceptance of supposed African cultural differences.
At the very least we must continue to campaign against demonising homosexuals and against treating them with a criminal harshness and a hatred that dehumanises them and those who preach and act against them, and that puts people's lives in real and actual danger.