Thursday, 10 July 2008

All you need is... Faith

  1. I have heard stories from the synod on Monday — joy for some and deep distress for others. I have been praying particularly for my Traditionalist colleagues. Quite honestly, I don’t particularly agree with them, but I know they are in great distress and emotional turmoil. I can only pray for them personally, and that some good way emerges for them.
  2. My friend and colleague +Stephen was telling our staff meeting about a day with bishops from a country with a repressive regime. Their faith and resilience puts us all to shame. Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson blogs about a pre-Lambeth mission conference in Lichfield, with Malaysian bishops who face all kinds of harrassment from a Muslim majority. I have heard it suggested that there is no point in Lambeth if all we do is meet, pray, study scripture and share experience. Cynics say it’s pointless without parliamentary debates. Frankly, I know some people love student politics, but it’s always bored me rigid. What I really value in Lambeth is an opportunity to meet privately, share, and pray with colleagues, especially brothers persecuted for their faith. I wonder what the point is, if all we’re allowed to do with them is play politics?
Enter Prodigal Kiwi, and a post about Emerging church and Brendan the Navigator, inspired by Mark Berry. Imagine these celtic saints, on the beach at the end of their known world, with no more than a coracle, preparing to launch out and let the currents take them where they would. Alan Jameson asks
Imagine stepping into a fragile boat of wood and leather smeared with animal fat to seal it from the waves. What does it feel like to, like St. Brendan, abandon the shore? – leaving behind all models and strategies, ignoring old maps and guides, cut adrift from techniques and traditions, with your future solely in God’s hands…”
These are the people who planted our faith in these islands. Whatever we think we know or don’t know, we can know that without faith it is impossible to please God. Saint Brendan’s prayer is a inspiring in the face of uncertainty:

“…Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries,
the soft comforts of home?

Shall I turn my back on my native land,
turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy,
without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honour?

Shall I throw myself wholly upon You, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on?

Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land,
placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks?

Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?

Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean?

O King of the Glorious Heaven,
shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

Kiekegaard is said to have described real Faith as “swimming in a rough sea 70,000 fathoms deep.” We all need a bit of faith. Remember Paul’s words to the crew in Acts 27 — “keep up your courage, for I have faith in God that all will turn out according to his promise.”


Joe said...

My favourite Kierkegaard quote is this one:

"In the magnificent cathedral the Honorable and Right Reverend Geheime-General-Ober-Hof-Prädikant, the elect favorite of the fashionable world, appears before an elect company and preaches with emotion upon the text he himself elected: "God hath elected the base things of the world, and the things that are despised"—and nobody laughs."

I know it has little to do with your post, but it makes me smile.

The truth is that there are a lot of Christians - even - shock, horror - a lot of Anglicans having an extremely difficult time of things at the moment. Last year I spent some time in Cairo at the Episcopal Cathedral, a largely forgotten backwater of Anglicanism, yet struggling to provide a prophetic service to Sudanese refugees who fill the place with song. It is more inspiring and more costly service than anything I have seen in the UK.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Joe, there are many Anglicans, including those who've wandered away from the faith who are having a tough time of it. A time made even tougher by the indifference from the hierarchy of the church.

It doesn't inspire one to read the snarky remarks, indicative of a "bishop" who despite his claims clearly engages in "student politics". The sort where you demonize and dehumanize those you have framed as your enemies. It's repugnant to see evidence of a religious leader who lacks any Christian compassion.

There is nothing wrong with Christians demanding their voices be heard. To dismiss those concerns shows the shoddy quality of the "listening" that Lambeth claims "indaba" will provide.

It now appears that Lambeth will be little more than a false front for what has already been decided. I wonder who has picked those who lead the groups and who they will be. It's disconcerting to realize that those expecting to be heard, will only be allowed to write their concerns down on slips of paper, and the "leader" will decide if said concerns will be consigned to a rubbish bin.

Has Bishop Alan been honest with himself about who or what he worships? Could it be the almighty dollar funneled in from TEC that he kneels down to?

Anonymous said...

Hi +Alan. Thanks for the mention. It's been great to have the post connect with a number of people.

Thinking of you and your fellow Bishops next week as Lambeth begins. If you get a chance, say "hello" to my Bishop, David Moxon.

Anonymous said...

It's been nearly a week, and no official statement from the ABoC, or any of his minions addressing any consciousness or concern about the increase in violent crime, youth gangs, the poverty caused by joblessness of Britain's youth.

We have read statements from Williams, where he gleefully talks about monies expended to purchase him a hybrid car, despite the fact that the obscene cost of that one purchase is diverted from perhaps something that might actually lift the suffering and burden of goodness knows how many poor people in his own country.

One would think we're living in the dark ages, with it taking an eternity for news to filter in to his bishop's palace that all was not well in his own country or county. Yet he manages to issue forth on global issues. That needs to be discussed and judged. From where I sit, the ABoC, and his minions should be found wanting.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Er, in fairness there's been a big wadge of campaigning by Sentamu on knife crime, and this week my friend +Stephen has got behind a Reading anti knife crime initiative following a young person's funeral he took. I also have to say that all over the Thames Valley, local church communities are engaged on the ground in all sorts of ways to develop sources of hope for young people. Then Rowan himself has been passionately involved with the good childhood project, the Stephen Lawrence Trust, the Credit Union movement, and a range of projects all over the country that don't hit the headlines. I was at a do in one of my urban prioirty parishes in Slough, only to find Rowan had just given substantially for one of the community development projects. I'd think that's mirrored all over the country. He doesn't particularly advertise his involvement, but I really don't think you're getting the whole picture about this subject.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Joe, I'm looking forward to catchng a greater sense of a large number of people engaged all over the world in the kind of faithful service and witness you mention in Cairo.

As to the other rather snarky (I think that's the word) anonymous comment, I am looking forward to finding out how the indaba process works in detail. I wonder if some such process would help you to develop the confidence and basic decency to put your name to your views, rather than just sniping from the dark.

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