Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Zealand to host next Anglican Consultative Council

If it is not abolished, as I think it should be, the next ACC meeting will be in Aotearoa New Zealand, in 2012. One venue for consideration could be Waiouru, at the beginning of the Desert Road. Okay, bad joke. By contrast here is an excerpt from a good sermon by outgoing ACC Chair, Bishop John Paterson (soon also to be outgoing Bishop of Auckland, as he has announced his retirement as from 31 March 2010):

"And they got the shock of their lives. The stone was already rolled away. ‘The stone was rolled back’ – an example perhaps of Mark’s use of the passive voice to avoid speaking directly of God. We are to understand that the entire event is God’s doing.

I like to ponder about that stone. Mark makes the point that it was extremely large, yet when the women arrived, they found that it had been rolled away. Are there any large stones in our lives? “Who will roll the stone away?” the women asked. Who can roll the stone away from the death, from the negativity that so easily causes us to stumble and even to stop? Who will roll the stone away from those places where death and decay have us locked in, have us trapped? Are we looking for the experience of triumph or hoping for the experience of presence? Does the empty tomb represent the assurance that God is present in our times of limits and losses? Have we manufactured any large stones and are now unable of our own strength to roll them away? Have we manufactured a large stone called ‘An Anglican Covenant’ that will seal off creative, faithful life in the Communion? I trust not. Perhaps there are other large stones with different labels that we might wish God to roll away – stones that might be labeled ‘conservative’, ‘liberal’, ‘orthodox’, ‘Windsor’, ‘Gafcon’ – are a few possibilities. Will God roll those stones away in order to let new life, new light, new hope emerge."

It's more upbeat than the Presidential Lament of Archbishop Rowan Williams. It includes a restatement of the importance of ACC. I disagree. The ACC is not wholly representative of the true theological diversity of the Communion and of its member churches. It should go. I am available to pronounce the last rites in 2012!

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