Monday, February 02, 2009
Here is the sermon by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, to the Anglican Primates yesterday at St. Mark's pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt.
It is translated into Arabic by Very Revd. Samy Fawzy Shehata, Dean of St. Mark's.
It's a very good sermon, timely in so many ways. It's quite a Jesus-centered and pointed sermon, appropriate on many levels, but most especially it appears to be aimed directly at a group of people who are severely divided over extraordinary biblical and cultural issues and are sitting right in front of him.
We can hear that the Archbishop of imploring directly and strongly (there's no sweet words to couch what he is saying to them - quite an un-English thing to do, but then he's Welsh isn't he?) with the Anglican Primates in front of him to listen to "Jesus speaking" through one other as they gather for this important meeting in Alexandria. How can there be direct conflict if everyone is looking to hear Jesus in one another? On one hand this is a great invocation for charity and kindness - but also a rather spiritualized attempt to shut down open conflict. And of course, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church is not even there yet. She is going to make an entrance today.
It's a very good sermon, but one can't escape the subtext - rather than calling the primates to be transparent and clear with one another, speaking truth to one another in love even when it's hard, there is an attempt here to cast a spirtualized spin to be nice, that one can assume Jesus is speaking as the primates speak to one another. What is missing is the gift of discernment - to know when Jesus is speaking through His Holy Spirit, and when He is not. Who will have the courage to say?