Today Anglicans circled prayerfully and slowly around, worked hard at not stepping on each others toes, and eventually all ended up in the centre admiring Canterbury. Yes, it was the official opening of the new University Labyrinth on the slope behind Eliot College and with wonderful views over both city and cathedral. I’m not sure whether the Conference simply coincided serendipitously with the labyrinth’s creation or not, but it made a fine late addition to the programme and afforded yet another way of holding all we are doing before God.
Our indaba group on sexuality was every bit as moving as I had hoped for. Emotionally I think the Conference has gone a long way towards endorsing what I would call responsible, accountable, contextual diversity. The tricky bit may be trying to capture that in a text that will survive the flights home, the determined shredders of the blogosphere and the efforts of some of our absent friends.
The morning video journal, before the dismissal at the end of the Eucharist, featured Tom Shaw from Massachusetts (thank you spell checker) and a Tanzanian bishop (whose name I didn’t catch) explaining how they keep up a warm and loving dialogue on human sexuality, that has now lasted several years, across their obvious and persisting theological differences. It was an example of the same graciousness that has been the hallmark of the last two weeks, but it shows it doesn’t have to end when Lambeth is over. The video introduction featured Rowan, who started by saying, “The 1998 Lambeth Conference spent a lot of energy discussing sexuality”, at which point the audio failed, whilst the picture jumped once or twice then stuck on a still of the Archbishop with his eyes closed (a blink stretched into eternity). Clearly this is where the energy finally ran out. The whole big blue tent roared with laughter, especially Rowan himself, and the mood, already buoyed up by a splendid sermon from the Archbishop of Burundi, rose even further. It was a good start to a good day.
Highlight of the day: I’m invited to supper at the Old Palace Canterbury tonight.
Lowlight of the day: when I get back I’m going to have to pack as tomorrow is my last day here before returning to Worcester for the Three Choirs Festival.