For months, if not years, there has been a murmuring about an 'alternative' to the Lambeth Conference 2008. The murmuring, however, has lacked clarity. Would the alternative be held alongside Lambeth (thus focusing attention on the bishops attending the one and not the other), or would it be held just beforehand (thus stealing thunder from Lambeth)? The announcement has now been made, and many things are clear. From 15 - 22 June the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) will be held in the Holy Land. Full details, including some expected FAQs, can be found on the GAFCON website. The plan has a certain amount of kindness in it for Archbishop Rowan Williams: it will be done and dusted about a month before Lambeth is due to open; and it will not be held in England (or in a storm centre of Communion controversy such as Nigeria or Sydney). Nevertheless one can imagine that Archbishop Rowan Williams will not be thrilled by this announcement.
Time will tell what the import of this conference will be. Some prognosticators on the internet are gleefully announcing it is the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it, and so on. I think that is premature. The challenge for bishops likely to be invited to GAFCON as well as to Lambeth is to weigh up what will build greatest cohesion among Anglicans. Today (27th December 2007) I suggest any bishop invited to both events should attend both!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I have two opportunities to communicate via preaching this Christmas. Sunday morning 23rd December - Advent 4. I want to talk then about God's purpose (Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25) and our part in response. A particular theme I will explore is 'family'. God placed Jesus in a family which nurtured him in his growth towards fulfilling God's purpose. At Christmas time 'family' is under examination; so why not do some reflecting on the course our family life is taking? The second opportunity is Christmas morning itself (Luke 2:1-14) when my theme will be 'Meeting Jesus for the first time'. The shepherds and others met Jesus for the first time. Have we met Jesus for the first time? Do we need to refresh our relationship with Jesus? One of the great insights of the Lukan nativity is that we can meet Jesus for the first time at anytime. The shepherds met Jesus in the middle of the night; Simeon met Jesus for the first time at the end of his life!