Saturday, November 3, 2012

These are the days of Elijah

Andrew Brown has written a cracking article on the state of the Church of England and, consequently, what kind of man is needed to be the next ABC. With a nip and a tuck and some mirror imaging here and there what he writes could as easily apply to the state of the Anglican church in NZ and (I imagine) Oz, the States, Canada, etc (but not Africa, Asia or South America). Here is his conclusion,

"What keeps the Church of England running is not its leadership nor its structures. It's the clergy's faith in God. Williams, for all his mistakes, was loved around the church because he seemed to share and even to exemplify that faith. The next archbishop will have to get that bit right if he is to inspire his followers. It's not a matter of having the right slogans."

OK, so we are not in the business of recruiting followers of bishops, but the point is not deterred by that faux pas. The church everywhere lives existentially by faith or dies. Leaders are required who inspire faith and win followers to the way of Christ.

Brown is right that ++Rowan has been an inspirer of faith. He has never for one moment failed to be a public witness to the truth of God in the marketplace and coffee shops of the world. Some of his detractors (including commenters here) have been quite uncharitable on that score. In that sense ++Rowan has been a leader not only of the C of E but of the worldwide Anglican church. When he has spoken he has been reported in newspapers Anglicans everywhere read. To the extent that we have acknowledged and been led in faith's journey by his proclamation we have been a worldwide church looking to a single leading figure.

For those of you who do not accept that the Anglican Church is the Anglican Church, I am afraid that you have to reckon with the authority of the Christchurch Press. A paragon of truth and virtue which this morning - anticipating ++Rowan's visit to our fair (but possible wet) city this afternoon - describes him as,

"The leader of the Anglican Church ..." (A6).

But back to faith-filled clergy and the next ABC. The biblical figure that comes to me as I reflect on Andrew Brown's article is Elijah. A mighty man of God with extraordinary faith and a mighty miracle working ministry. There is a lovely song some of us sing these days in church which is apt to the search for the next leader of the Anglican Church ... These are the days of Elijah

ACC: In ACC news this youth steward from Dunedin reports on the opening powhiri ...


Father Ron Smith said...

The tune is quite catchy, Peter, I'll give you that, but the words are a little self-indulgent - reflecting the wish-fulfilment of a people who long for the Old Testament ethos.

I, myself, prefer the less pop-idol atmosphere of the traditional English Hymnal, which brings us back to the reality of our own human limitations, while yet offering the hope of eternal life through our Saviour Jesus Christ.

I can never substitute Elijah for Jesus. Elijah was a prophet - who was looking for the coming reign of the Incarnate Jesus - He is the One. There is no substitute. All charismatic leaders can do is: to follow the humility of Christ themselves, and thereby hope to encourage others to find and experience 'The great Love of God
as revealed in the Son.

There is only One Redeemer - there is no other.

Simon said...

You may enjoy these extra verses which we used to add to the song at Mass at our church in London, Fr Ron (we didn't have the African kids backing choir, sadly). Perhaps it might catch on at the ACC too?

These are the days of Miriam
Dancing with praise to the Lord
And these are the days of your servant, Esther
Protecting the people of God
And though these are days of endurance
Of waiting and mystery and doubt
Still in our hearts is the Spirit’s whisper
Rising to victory shout

(Chorus: Behold She comes, mighty rushing wind,
Stirring holy breath, Spirit on the move
Listen to Her voice, it’s time to hear Her speak
Open up your ears, God’s word will come

These are the days of Deborah
Creating God’s justice on earth
And these are the days of your servant Rahab
Rebel who sides with the Lord
And these are the days of empowerment
Of risking and making a stand
We are the agents of transformation
The Kingdom of God is at hand

Simon said...

And from time to time, we would add this verse, too, written by Fr Edmund Cargill-Thompson - potentially very much up Fr Ron's street:

These are the days of St Dominic
Calling God's people to preach.
And these are the days of Your Servant Francis
Proclaiming good news to the poor.
And these are the days of Our Lady.
Like her we say yes to Our Lord.
And so with the Saints of the ages praying
We're building the Church of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

These are the days of Miriam,
Rejecting the African wife:
Yes, she rose up against her brother
And found herself in strife.
Yes, these are the days of Jael
With the tent peg firm in her hand.
And with one blow of her hammer,
She clears the scum from the land!
Behold, it comes, rumbling in our tums –
In an empty church where noone comes.
Our average age is 73,
We’re deep in debt – but we are PC!

Anonymous said...

These are the days of St Dominic -
But keep this under your hat:
He led the great Inquisition -
Now no one expected that!
And these are the days of Your Servant Francis,
Who also went on crusade,
And armed with the Holy Bible
On the Caliph he made a raid!
And these are the days of Our Lady,
The finest woman on earth,
Or so they say in circles
That reject the Virgin Birth.
Down they dumb
The teaching of the Church
Those 'catholic-lite' till Kingdom come!

Father Ron Smith said...

Bravo, Simon! Sounds pretty good to me. Someone reminiscent of Jesus' valuation of the 'fairer sex' - and, very, very catholic, too. Agape.
Keep on posting here!

We just had ++Rowan, Archbishop of Canterbury here in Christchurch, today. He would understand the theme!