An overview of the crowds that packed Christ Church Plano for the installation of the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, only find an old friend from Truro in the crowd.
Just recorded the most amazing procession of clergy and bishops into Christ Church Plano. It was just really moving to me - I recognized so many of those who processed in and know some of their stories and it just really moved me to see them come in to a new beginning.
Here it is:
The introduction to Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven was incredible - what an arrangement which in the service program says is by John Watson. It just evoked so much feeling, of a journey into the desert. We may not be entirely out of the desert, but the music with the drums was filled to the brim with mystery and drama.
It was clear to me that the master of organization of the service (I am sure there is an Episcopal/Anglican word for it!) was Bishop Martyn Minns, who stood in the back and shepherded in all the participants who walked in orderly and on time. Ah, some things just do not change. How many times have I seen him in the exact same position, standing at the door in the Narthex of Truro Church, only now to find him standing at this door, shepherding in a new province.
There are all kinds of clergy here, from all walks and streams of life, as I am sure is true for the laity in the pews. The diversity is rather wonderful, for what draws them together is a common faith in Jesus Christ and a word of blessing to one another, as those who have walked together through fire and storm, man and woman alike.
The scriptures are from Psalm 85:7-13, from Isaiah 40:1-11, from Acts 13:14-26, and now from Luke 1:57-80 which is being read at this moment. Archbishop-elect Bob Duncan is next and will be preaching.
It interesting - they take the song of praise, pause to do the Gospel, and then do a reprise of the song. Very good!
Bob Duncan is now at the pulpit/lectern. He is dressed in a white and gold cope. He begins by recognizing that today is the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist and gives thanks that today is not the Feast of the beheading of John the Baptist, such a day exists, but not today.
Today is also the day of Scottish Independence with Robert the Bruce and William Wallace. Today is also the day that Henry VIII was crowned King of England 500 years ago. He talks about how a leader of the church gone astray, confiscating the property of the church along the way - but instead, to remind ourselves about Romans 8:28 how God works all things according to His purpose.
It's not about the past, Bishop Duncan says, or what we've come out of. We are not to be reactive in our course forward in our ministry, as Rick Warren reminded us, or the vision of a terrible war and conflict and yet to be called to another place, to come up the stairs of treasure and a voice saying, that war is not your war anymore, as Edwina Thomas of SOMA said. It's not your war anymore, that's all done.
It was hard for us to hear, Bishop Duncan said, the words - that some of the things that separate us from the Orthodox are also those things that separate us from one another.
No, it's time for us. There are Calvin Anglicans - right? And there are women in Holy Orders, right? The miracle of this moment is that the Lord has brought us together to do mission, not papering over the differences or just putting it down. Rather, to stand as we stand and be prepared to talk with Christian brothers and sisters about the truth and unity that comes in Jesus Christ.
It's not about the past. We have been brought together for a noble work and God has blessed this journey and he's ready to bless in great measure as we move forward in our respect for one another.
It's not about me, Bishop Duncan says. "I get to wear all the stuff," he says, "but it's only about me about the servant of the servants of God." It's when we go, the further we go down the more the Lord lifts us up.
The timing and the message is about us and about God. It's about messengers and the message and about the method. Bishop Duncan will speak to each.
We will not miss God's message to us - what is it He wants us to be? He wants us to be messengers, for-runners, witnesses, where we're headed and what we are to do. It's about being messenger of Him. We go before Him to prepare His way.
He wants us to be messengers, He wants us to be forerunners - it's a wilderness out there.
(BB NOTE: You can also follow people twittering the service here.)
He's telling the story of his flight on the plane and of the big guy who came and sat down next to him in the middle seat. The fellow was wearing a shirt with expletives. He opened up a book and started reading about the 12 steps. So now, Bishop Duncan - am I supposed to talk to this guy? Bishop Duncan asked him his name and noticed that he was reading the 12 steps. He asked how long he'd been sober? The young man said he'd gotten out of rehab two days ago.
Bishop Duncan, knowing that he'd never done this on a plane before, he asked the young man, "Do you have a faith?" The young man said no, he was not raised in any faith. He had been suffering with alcohol since he was fifteen and now he was twenty-five. He's trying to get well and he has a family. He's trying to start over. He needs to know he has been forgiven. He needs to know that God loves him. And he needs to know that there is a power of God who can help him get out of the mess he's in. Who's going to tell him but us?
Bishop Duncan talked with him, that he would be praying for him, and got others to pray for him as well. We are to be forerunners, have to prepare the way. God is coming in the flesh - and it's His flesh and our flesh. He's the main thing - He wants to come into every town and village and He's sending us ahead of Him, we are His messengers.
Are you ready?
Are you willing?
The message: Taking a second look at Luke 1 - the message to give salvation to His people in the forgiveness in their sins. It's about forgiveness. The way that people know the knowledge of salvation they know that they are forgiven.
Light in darkness, the light is the life of man. The message is that not only is there forgiveness, there is life, no shadow of death. That is the message. Then He says, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. The young man on the plane needed to know that he was forgiven, that he has life, and that he had power accessible to do what would be impossible if he didn't have it. We need to guide our feet in the way peace.
What is really important - this passage is one of the most recited passages of scripture, along with the Magnificant. God wants us to prepare His way, by telling them about forgiveness, about the light, about the peace.
Those who are the thrones get thrown off - to go off and prepare the way. Liturgy is great stuff, Bishop Duncan says.
Final thing: the method. What does God want us to do - ten suggestions.
1. Embracing our identity as messengers, as forerunners.If you are trying to recall what it's all about. Remember the birth of John the Baptist - remember his father's words, as is our Father's word over us, His vision for us. "You my child shall be called the prophet most high, you shall go before the Lord to prepare the way." Brothers and sisters, let us do this together.
2 Doing what pleases the Lord, growing in unity and charity so that people will see how we love one another.
3. Welcome back the wounded.
4. Calling and equipping and modeling to a new generation of leaders - never too young.
5. In the next five years Bishop Duncan wants us to plant 1,000 churches. The congregation breaks out in applause. "We can do that, there's 700 churches now."
6. We've got to be about the business of engaging Islam and secularism, and materialism - but especially Islam. There is only one way to the Father - it is the only way, it's a matter of life and death. The congregation breaks out in more applause.
7. We need to be about the great corporate acts of mercy - loving the hungry, the thirty, the strangers, the sick, those in prison, and being with them.
8. Blessing of creative ministry responses - we don't have to do everything as it's been done, but believe everything as it has been believed.
9. We need to get much better to get scripture by heart.
10. We need to be praying, giving thanks, rejoicing in all circumstances.
The Presentation now begins. The presenters have gathered at the front. "Rt. Rev'd Father in God, we present to you this godly and learned man to be recognized and invested as Archbishop and Primate of this Church."
They are now reading what is called the Mandate.
He has now taken his oaths:
We, as the people, now promise that we will pray for Archbishop Duncan.
The congregation now goes to prayer.
Preparation is now underway for the anointing.
Archbishop Duncan is now anointed by the Anglican Primate of Kenya, an Archbishop of the Anglican Communion in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
"You are to know the people and be known by them."
Now comes the giving of the primatial cross and presentation.
Now Nara Dewar Duncan, Archbishop Duncan's wife, comes to his side.
The Archbishop is now presented to the people.