The Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Alan Harper, preached this sermon at Clonmacnoise on the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene. Read it all, but here’s the concluding part:
Archbishop Drexel Gomez, addressing the General Synod of the Church of England on the issue of an Anglican Covenant, said recently:
Anglican leaders are seriously wondering whether they can recognize in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation. While some feel there will be inevitable separation, others are trying to deny that there is a crisis at all. That is hardly a meeting of minds. Unless we can make a fresh statement clearly and basically of what holds us together we are destined to grow apart.
I doubt if anyone believes that there is no crisis. Rather, in the context of Archbishop Drexel’s key test, that is, recognizing in each other the faithfulness to Christ that is the cornerstone of our common life and cooperation, a spirit of arrogance on both sides is causing people of genuine faith and undoubted love for the Lord Jesus to bypass the requirement for patience and for making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
I have yet to meet any “leader” who does not treat with the utmost respect and indeed reverence the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. I have heard no one in this crisis deny the fundamental tenets of the faith as Anglicans have received them. Yet I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not believing precisely as they themselves believe. Equally, I have heard believing Christians attack other Christians for not attaching the weight they themselves attach to this biblical text compared with that.
This is not the way of Christ; it is the way of fallen humanity. It is a boulder of our own creation and I do not know who will help us to roll it away.
Some fear, and I am among them, that an Anglican Covenant, unless it is open and generous and broad, may simply become a further means of obstruction: a boulder, rather than a lever to remove what obscures and impedes our access to the truth that sets us free.
The truth is that the tomb is empty and we are called to live a new life in which resurrection and not death is the new reality; a life freed from the narrow constraints of human expectation, predictability and conformity; a life that confidently expects the disclosure of new vistas offered by the God whose very nature and purpose is to make all things new and make us part of His new creation.
Throughout history the way of the Church has been strewn with boulders of her own making. Those boulders conceal from us what God has already done and is continuing to do. They are boulders compounded of pride, hypocrisy and conceit, envy, hatred and malice and all uncharitableness.
From such things, good Lord, deliver us! And deliver especially this tortured Anglican Communion of Churches.