Archbishop of Church of the Province of Central Africa
Bishop of Botswana
Evening Worship, Friday 7 August
[Transcription from tape]
The preacher this morning was concerned about what he was going to say. Now, you may well wonder what I feel at this very moment - with a worn out conference and God and others being told everything under the sun. Unfortunately that happens to be my lot in life. I, at one stage, was invited to preach at a consecration of a cathedral which lasted five hours. When God had been given His marching orders I was called on.
However, we have come from where we have come to meet at this conference first of all to acknowledge the triune God in Songs of Praise. We have encountered Him in prayer and liturgies and they have reflected reverence, beauty and adoration. Through the experiences, cultures and stories of others we entered into the reality of creation under the sovereignty of God. So, having come from God, at this late stage we remind ourselves that, indeed, we are His.
The psalm that I chose 'Bless the Lord O my soul, And all that is within me bless His holy name' is a song of thanksgiving in the spirit of the last psalm that was read. To give thanks to God, who in His goodness and mercy has patience, is long-suffering with his children. The God who is unchanging, this god of holiness, truth, love and generosity has come as we entered into His presence to enable our worship. So it is in His majesty and splendour that we bow down, and have been down with a myriad of other worshippers to behold the very face of God.
If Lambeth does nothing else but enable us to discover some of the deeper truths about God, and how, in His various ways, he has shown his generosity, He has expressed his love and has drawn us closer to Him, then it will have put everything in place. We are a people of worship, we are a people of obedience, we are equally a people of encounter.
Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits. God is good, and that is probably why the church is still surviving. God is good, and that is why the path to salvation is open to us. God is good, that in spite of our mucking-things-up He stands consistently for right - not rectitude - for right, for righteousness, for truth, for integrity.
So, as a people of encounter, coming to encounter the living God, and to encounter others who in faith are gathered here, we have done a variety of things through this encounter - through bible study, through meetings, through discussions. I remember hearing an Irish priest - I hope there are no Irish here... He was a member of the Community of the Congregation of the Sacred Passion and he was called to attend the Chapter of his Order and he sent a letter to his Superior saying 'Sorry, can't be present' and signed himself 'Holy Spirit'. Sometimes our deliberations have made me wonder if we have chased the Holy Spirit away.
Those we have encountered in the presence of God, those who encounter the presence of God, are invariably moved to repentance. I am not doing an 'evaluation form' from the pulpit of what this conference is about, but I am doing a number of things. First of all I thank God for the opportunity of having shared in the worship, of having been reminded that I belong to a wider community of believers and worshippers. But, equally, I am reminded that on this occasion a variety of things have happened, and if we are to be called to repentance, we have to be agents of reconciliation. The tenor of some of our discussions can only be described as 'frenzied'. The tone in which they were expressed was devoid of the love of God. We have had tyrants using the Bible as armour, and words spoken from this very spot that were aimed to wound and to win score debating points.
I do not believe that this is the economy of the community of the Trinity. I do not believe that this is the basis of our Lord Jesus Christ. In our confusion He comes in order that He may shed light upon us. In our perplexity He comes that we may have comfort. In our bewilderment He sheds a light, a comforting light, so that we may truly be representatives of His.
There were those in this conference who have power, those who want it and want it badly, those who want to use it - whether by being utterly articulate or experts at procedural devices - those who have the 'lollie' [money] and know exactly how to use it to best advantage.
Sadly, we have equally had those who have been marginalised in our midst - some are confused and others remain wounded. From my background, I want to say here and now, I have resisted tyranny all my life and nor will I ever tolerate it from those who claim the love of the Bible over everyone else. Let not the intolerance of a variety of contexts inexorably lead us to intolerance, which, if I am checked, will find us with a band of vigilantes and fundamentalists.
I pray to God that the spirit of Anglicanism will survive, that we shall come to engage each other and find the best way forward. May God forgive us our wrong doings and our failure to strengthen His fellowship. I heard the Cross mentioned, and at times one got the impression that that Cross was not the life-giving Cross but was almost some kind of whip to whip those who were sinners.
The Greeks talk of the 'life giving spirit', [spoken in Greek and repeated in English] [may that Cross], because, when we go to Calvary, Jesus has borne our sins there. When we go to Calvary we take our own [sins] and not become surrogates of heaven while crushing those who are over-burdoned by sin. As we leave this place we still remember whence we came, we came from God, we have engaged in the presence of God and now we must go back whence we came. It is there that we should render service and therefore, in line with some of the resolutions that have been passed here, I would say 'Love God and love the brethren', 'Proclaim the truth in season and out of season', 'Stand for what is right in the spirit of love, not self-righteousness', and 'Serve those whom god has loved, even unto the end'.
In a divided world, especially after the tragedies we heard of today, of the bombing of the American Embassies in various places, we are reminded once again that we are a community of faith, a people of hope, the children of light - who are called to build a community of faith, hope and love until God comes in His kingdom.
May we go out of here to seek, to dwell in the presence of the Almighty, that in Him His name may be glorified and His kingdom extended. Amen.