Monday, February 11, 2019

Bishop of Christchurch

Today is Monday. The weekend was great. The ordination service on Saturday morning in the Christchurch Boys High School auditorium was beautiful, the installation service on Saturday afternoon in Christchurch's Cathedral Square was bathed in sunshine (a little too hot, if we were to complain about one thing!) and well attended, an afternoon tea at Christ's College was a lovely way to conclude the day, then preaching at all three services in the Transitional Cathedral yesterday was a privilege with a superb family and friends lunch between the first two and last services.

The whole weekend involved vast efforts of time and energy from a large number of people and I am grateful to everyone for their contribution: thank you!

Here is my favourite picture from various family snaps - taken after I was installed in the cathedra [bishop's chair] in sight of the cathedral:

Taonga has an article here.

My installation service address is here.

Our Diocesan website has articles here, here and the video of the ordination is here and of the installation is here. (Excellent quality too!)

Here is the text of my sermon yesterday in the Transitional Cathedral:

"Sermon for Sunday 10 February 2019 @TC
Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; [10 am only] 1 Cor 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11
By splendid coincidence the prescribed readings from the lectionary today, featuring the prophet Isaiah, Jesus our Lord and his apostles, [Paul and] Simon Peter fit perfectly with a new bishop speaking about a new chapter in Christ’s mission for the Diocese.
By terrifying coincidence, the prescribed readings today speak of prophetic and apostolic ministry and mission which was faith-filled, fruitful, and enduring in a manner which sets the highest of standards for a new bishop to attain to.
Isaiah receives a vision which terrifies him.
“Woe is me!”
No vague, ambiguous God confronts him through the vision.
Majestic, awesome, holy, the Lord of hosts sits on his divine throne.
But this overwhelming, Almighty God seeks a human servant – a missioner who can be sent to call Israel to return to God – and Isaiah is that servant.
“Here I am; send me!”
If we, the Diocese of Christchurch, believe in Isaiah’s God, what is God wanting us to do in God’s service?
Are we available to this God? Dare we say, “Here we are, send us!”
Isaiah’s call is set in a time when Israel had some hope that it could work itself out of a considerable mess in respect of its theology and its practice, but all too soon that hope was dashed.
Israel would not heed the prophetic message of Isaiah and other prophets.
God led it into exile - a severe punishment for unfaithfulness, for spiritual recklessness.
But it was not the end of Israel.
The same God led the return of Israel to its promised land, creating in the process a longing for a new anointed ruler, a new King David.
Those longings are motifs hidden within Paul’s phrase “according to the Scriptures” in the 1 Corinthians 15 reading, where he contextualizes the execution and then resurrection of Jesus into the history and expectations of Israel.
Those expectations were often put in pastoral images – sheep, false shepherds leading the sheep astray, a true or good shepherd to come.
And much talk about pastoral ministry in the church, including that of a bishop, is couched in this pastoral language.
We can excuse the first disciples Jesus called to follow him for being a little confused when the talk of a new future for Israel was about fishing and not about shepherding.
Luke’s gospel story of the net full and overflowing with fish illustrates that the God of Israel is the God of expansion and growth.
The mission of God which becomes the mission of Christ shifts focus from one nation to all nations.
Israel will grow beyond its racial and geographical boundaries to include new fish – new peoples, new nations.
God through Jesus Christ came into the world to gather together all the peoples of the world, a vast catch.
If Isaiah’s mission is to speak to Israel as sheep that have lost their way and become disconnected from God,
then the mission of Simon Peter and his fishing mates is to speak to the world as fish God wishes to catch and make connection with.
In both cases, God is at work in the world and amazingly invites ordinary human beings, frail and fallible people,
that is, you and me, Isaiah and Simon Peter, to share in the divine mission.
If there is one task in my time as bishop I want to make the stand out priority,
it is to challenge myself and all who will listen to me to actively share in the mission of God, to be co-workers in the mission of Christ.
The church ought to be primarily missional: outward facing, always available to be sent by God into the world, unafraid to catch people into the great net of God.
In theory, we know this, we nod in agreement with this but in practice we the church often find it hard to be primarily missional.
We often settle on primarily responding to our internal wants and needs.
Yet as long as we read Holy Scripture, God will challenge us to be primarily missional, as our readings do today.
There is a specific challenge in our Gospel reading that I draw to our attention.
In the background to this challenge are these observations:
The sober reality is that the number of Anglicans active in Christ’s mission in our Diocese is declining.
Our total Sunday attendance has been declining through the past few decades. Since the quakes, 70 ministry units have been reduced to 60 units.
It should not be surprising to us if in my time as Bishop of Christchurch we further reduce to 50 ministry units.
Yet such realities in the present time are at variance with the mission of Christ laid out in this event of an overwhelming catch of fish – an event which illustrates the expansive, universal heart of God.
In this passage Luke invites us to ask:
Are we joining with Jesus in great faith, believing that – even though the contemporary night seems long and the fishing to date has caught little – the best catch is yet to be?
A couple of years ago Stephanie Robson, now our new Ministry Educator, published a sober report into the state of our life as a Diocese.
In that report, Stephanie makes a very sharp observation about our tendency (in my own words) to avoid facing the double jeopardy of many congregations simultaneously reducing and ageing.
We are doing that avoidance, I infer from the report, on the basis of a vague hope that some new people might turn up, transferring to us from other churches;
or that a change in government immigration policy might one day lead to the recruitment of thousands of ready-made Anglicans from Africa.
No. Our hope should be directed to a different way of thinking.
If we are not to die as a Diocese, in approximately twenty years’ time, we must freshly offer ourselves to God to be part of an apostolate, of an evangelistic mission in Canterbury, Westland and the Chathams.
A mission which seeks to draw new people into the life of Christ.
Only if this is our mindset will we be taking seriously the words of Jesus:
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
Ah, you may be thinking to yourselves,
“That is all very well, but isn’t Christ’s mission much more than evangelism? Doesn’t it include working for justice, seeking to meet the needs of the last, the least and the lost?”
Indeed, Christ’s mission is comprehensive, broad and far reaching and often it is better conducted by deeds rather than words.
But I will be failing in my obligation as the Bishop of Christchurch if I lose sight of the evangelistic mission of Christ and if I fail to challenge our Diocese to have the same mindset as Jesus himself had.
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
At stake is not simply the size of the Diocese but the future of the Diocese and its work in the mission of Christ.
In twenty years’ time, who will be available to reach out to the poor in our communities around the Diocese with the practical love of Jesus?
So what might we do, here and now, today and tomorrow?
A little introspection is good for the soul.
What if we were to ask ourselves this question:
What is so valuable to me about Jesus Christ that I want others to have what I treasure?
That is a loaded question, of course, because it raises the question how valuable Jesus is to us.
But it is great question because it leads us to a place of renewal.
If we have lost our first love for Jesus, Jesus is more eager than we are to renew that love.
If we have difficulty articulating why Jesus is central to our lives, Jesus is more eager than we are to teach us about himself.
When I returned to the Diocese not long after Bishop Victoria began her episcopacy here, I heard people saying things like this:
“Bishop Victoria has made it cool to talk about mission.”
That was and is brilliant.
Let’s keep talking mission.
Our challenge today, for the next ten years, at least, is whether we will all – together in Christ - make it cool to talk about evangelism at the forefront of mission.
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”"

Onwards and upwards!


Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter, I was absolutely appalled that there was not one sentence about your episcopal ordination and installation in the local Christchurch Press this morning. Accordingly, I sent the following email to the Editor, the text of which I append here as witness to my protest (as it may never be published).

Congratulations on a wonderful occasion on Saturday

"The Editor,
Christchurch Press.

I find it most interesting that, despite the fact that The Press got plenty of copy about the 'scandal' of the Anglican Cathedral in the Square and the presumed problems the Press was pleased to report about Bishop Victoria Matthews; when an item of positive civic importance comes along relating to the Church, the Press chooses to ignore it! Why is it that only bad news about the Church gets published by The Press?

Why, when the new Christchurch Anglican Bishop - Peter Carrell - was ordained before a congregation of 1,000, with eight visiting Bishops - including the R.C. Bishop of Christchurch and a large number of Anglican clergy, in the Christchurch Boys High School Assembly Hall, on Saturday, was this not noted in our local paper? Not even one sentence about it.

Why also was not the Enthronement ceremony of Bishop Peter Carrell even referred to in your columns - especially when it took place in front of a large crowd on the site of the Cathedral in the Square - and in the Presence of our City Mayor and Councillors?

Both of these events were important to the City of Christchurch but not, apparently, to the local newspaper. Shame on you! Christchurch Press.

Father Ron Smith
110 Hunter Terrace,
Christchurch 8022"

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Thanks for your support and encouragement!
You are right to point out to the Press that given their previous coverage of the cathedral it is reasonable to think they might have reported on (at least) the installation service outside the cathedral on Saturday afternoon.
A few steps from their building ... no transport costs to be incurred :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the good people of Christchurch on getting a grounded, well-qualified, and visionary bishop. It is not easy to get all three.

Condolences to ADU readers who are getting fewer OPs here. The Monday OPs though are excellent; + Peter's new rhythm is working.

Compliments to Father Ron on a rarely uncontroversial scolding. These are hard times for print media, of course. But they only get harder if subscribers and advertisers make comparisons and ask questions. "The crowdsource reporting on Facebook and Twitter was excellent, while the Press did not cover this at all. What else am I missing? Who else is disappointed? What is the Press actually for?"

Anonymous said...

That said, I would be tempted to frame the front page and hang it in the diocesan conference room as a reminder of change that is needed on both sides. The Press missed its chance to frame concretely and from the beginning three narratives that are hard to tell but that a relevant newspaper must offer-- cathedral reconstruction is beginning; churches are adapting to smaller numbers; new relationships are emerging among churches and the wider society. + Peter's enthronement put a face on all three, as an astute editor will realise in hindsight.

On the other hand, dealing with the news media has never been like feeding a hungry pet. News needs to be staged and explained with the frailties of journalists who are overworked, underpaid, on deadline, and under editors and a publisher or broadcaster in mind. When I moved a ballet company's free events to Saturdays and made them a bit more spectacular, we got full-color pictures above the fold on six of eight consecutive Sunday papers. Of course, there were articles to go with the pictures, and grant-makers and donors were very pleased. When other performing companies complained to the editor about unfairness, she shot back, "I run a business. Did you really expect me not to run a picture of costumed dancers outdoors on stilts? And do you know how many more papers we sold with that on the front page?" Etc. Why not a celebratory banner in the hole on the west side for Easter? It is not enough to have stories; you also have to help the media to know and tell them.

But today, another alliance of editors and bishops is also needed: each has a stake in the vocation of the other. The institutions of both are undergoing profound change in response to similar sorts of long term decline. Both journalists and clergy will eventually do some things differently, although both are still experimenting rather than reforming. Most importantly, both, in complementary ways, help the civic community to recognise and understand itself as something more than the friction slowing myriad private interests. Each does this as figures of unity who address the efforts of many others to constituencies that can only be a whole community by deciding again and again to be so. We all know that politicians and the media have a symbiotic working relationship-- as do farmers and chefs-- but between the vocations of editors and bishops is the deeper mystery of St Matthew v 14.

+ Peter's ecumenical colleagues offered prayers at his consecration. Is this mystery also their burden? Yes, it is, and how can one not be grateful for that? More often than we do, we should pray for the *episcope* of the whole Body in each place. Still, as the cathedral debates have revealed, + Peter inherits the work in a somewhat singular way in Christchurch.

But even apart from that, a certain Christ-centred relationship between the Body and the body politic is the only and inescapable Anglican distinctive. Our reformers did not so much break with Rome as bond with the modern society emerging in England. This alone makes sense of the old royal supremacy, and explains why our fathers held fast to ecumenical faith and order and tolerated divisive theologoumena. It wasn't love of authoritarianism or pluralism in the church, and it certainly wasn't denominationalism, Reformed or Anglican. Rather, the simple, scriptural catholicity of Cranmer, Jewel, Andrewes, Hooker, and the Caroline divines served a vocation in Christ to renew and unify the commonwealth. And as that commonwealth has changed, divines such as Maurice and Temple have addressed it in new ways. Other kinds of overseers do good work when they promote their traditional pieties, but Anglican bishops are Anglicans and bishops because they build dioceses throughout the earth for the civil communities that God loves. Their theology is not particularly distinctive, and their vocation is really for all Christians, but their focus on it is unique.


Anonymous said...

"Cruelty to animals is contrary to scripture-- indeed, our Lord compared himself to a fox with no hole-- and evangelicals both follow scripture and enjoin their churches to do the same. How then can an Anglican evangelical want to remain in The Church of Cockaigne after its General Synod has approved a rite for the Blessing of Hounds for the Hunt? Surely the cognitive dissonance of defending and opposing the same practice is intolerable for any real evangelical, even if HMG has asked for help in reducing the population of predators."

Postscript-- My comment just above suggests a soundbite or elevator speech in reply, but alas only some Anglican evangelicals can use it.

"Quite apart from our Lord's desire for us to remain united in himself, Anglicans, evangelicals, and Anglican evangelicals all know that synods err in anything that depends on more than creedal faith, as practical matters like this one manifestly do. There is no safety in leaving an erring synod; one will just find oneself with a new one that is no more reliable and possibly a lot less grounded. Just look at the madhouse that by all accounts was PEAR-USA.

"An evangelical wants to be an Anglican to help dioceses to be salt and light to those around them. It is just because even the best of us make mistakes that one formed by Bible, Cross, Conversion, and Action is needed. There is no cognitive dissonance in recognising that a synod sometimes chooses imperfect means to a good and proper end.

"And an Anglican wants to be an evangelical, albeit an Open Evangelical or Communion Partner, in order to join the best contemporary Christian way, not only to nurture faith and holiness, but also to be a city on a hill for our neighbours. With respect, other sorts of churchmanship have stressed either personal holiness or social engagement, but have failed thus far to integrate the two in a way that the church as a whole can understand. In that way, they do not support the Anglican vocation as well."

So then why do some Anglican evangelicals leave anyway? In a nutshell, these usually embrace the Anglican piety for individuals without the Anglican vocation to society. If one's doctrine suggests that an individual is nearly complete without the fullness of church, and a church is surely complete with no relationship to the society around it, then of course one finds it hard to tolerate any error in responding to social needs. Such a one takes consolation from the doctrine of justification by grace, but not courage from the doctrine of the two kingdoms. We should not judge this-- souls respond to grace as they can, and God may have his uses for an Anglican pietism-- but neither should we be deflected from our scriptural and historic calling.


Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
Thanks for support.
Our local paper is a bit mysterious sometimes!

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
Your last paragraph 5.13 pm is brilliant (and superbly helpful to me as I understand what is happening in the life of our church in this particular Down Under society): thank you!

Stu said...

Dear Peter,
its been a while since I dipped in to ADU. Tomorrow is my last day serving as a vicar in the ACANZP. I just wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate you and wish you well in this new season of ministry my friend. May God inspire and guide you. May you continue to know the riches of Word & Spirit to shape your life and ministry in Christ.
in Him,
Ps please send mine and Mary's love to that precious daughter of yours (Leah).

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Stu
Thank you for your very kind words.
As you begin a new season, I wish you and Mary the very best for the journey ahead of you.
I have passed your message onto Leah :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Peter, I am always glad to have written something useful.

The last paragraph of 12:34 marks a change in my understanding. The last paragraph of 5:13 uncovers one of its implications. There is an avalanche of others, and for the moment I am buried in them, expecting a friendly St Bernard with brandy.


Anonymous said...

The patron saint of Evangelicals, St Valentine in The Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome--

Gelasius dryly observed that he was "among those justly celebrated by all for deeds known only to God," and there are about a dozen saints of antiquity with this name, but the best hagiography associated with February 14 commemorates the bishop of a suburb of Rome who was an effective evangelist in a time of persecution. His association with the traditions of courtly love is probably no more ancient than Chaucer.


Anonymous said...

Mike Bird says it this way--

Anonymous said...

As far as it goes, Bird's OP may be my favourite brief statement of the Catholic-and-Reformed-Is-Better apology for the Anglican via media between Wittenburg and Geneva. The salience of that apology to those who have become Christians as eg Baptists is clear from the testimony of others who, like Bird, have followed a path from the London Confession to the 39A.

But this is precisely an apology for others; it will not do as a self-understanding for actual Anglicans. On one hand, it airbrushes away the monarchy's deep involvement in the Church of England as the wet dog who should not have been in the wedding picture, even though that is the historical reason why a via media happened in England but not elsewhere. For example, Anglicans have bishops because Elizabeth I and her successors insisted on them for the good of the realm, not because they would be helpful to denominational piety a few centuries later. And Catholic and Reformed are anachronisms of later centuries, not what Luther and Calvin got out of bed to be every morning. The theology of Anglican churches cannot be reduced to the political history of modern England, early and late, but neither can it be abstracted from that history. Doing so renders the civic engagement of Anglicans from then to now meaningless.

Yet that civic engagement is meaningful precisely in light of the apostolic faith in Jesus. At their best, Bird's Baptists are wonderful at acts of charity that bring Christ's love to strangers in need, and this is reason enough to respect their pietism. But the Bible's horizon is far wider than our interpersonal relations, although it surely includes them. Idolatry, personal and social, has disfigured the human community that God created, worship of the Creator-Messiah regenerates that community, and what we call church is just the first fruits of that new creation. According to the scriptures, the Christian hope is not that individuals will travel to a far-away heaven when they die, but that all flesh shall be raised up to see God in the New Jerusalem. All of our private concerns are summed up in it, of course, but this is a public future. If this does not affect our actions in the present, then what do we mean when we say that we believe?

Put another way, when Bird's "gospel people" struggle to make sense of the catholic practice of the Catholic-and-Reformed hybrid of Anglicans, they are trying to find the motivation in Christ for that more-than-individual scope of the biblical narrative itself. Proof texts from the Bible do not help them much unless and until they see the canon as a whole narrative from creation to new creation, garden to city. Once one does see that narrative as the context for those proof texts-- and for the ways in which Jesus and the biblical writers themselves handled scripture-- then, at least intellectually, it all falls into place. Usually, this does not so much solve their problem as reveal it to be a part of a bigger, uglier one-- many of us are alienated from the civic life that God intended for humanity. As in the C1, this alienation is the personal and social fallout of idolatry.

To do missions with + Victoria or evangelism with + Peter is to present Jesus in a way that heals that alienation. Again, Anglicans are not the only Christians who have some resources for doing this work-- Catholics have the social magisterium; Lutherans, a robust two-kingdoms doctrine; Methodists, the example of John Wesley, etc-- but Anglicanism is the only Western tradition that is incomprehensible apart from some political theology.


Anonymous said...

Postmodernity comes to the Harvard Medical School

"Dr. Alessandro de Franciscis is the 15th President of the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations, or the Bureau des Constatations Médicales. The Bureau was founded in 1883 to record, study, and judge the alleged healings and cures reported by pilgrims at the Shrine of Lourdes. 7,400 cases of unexplained cures have been recorded, and a total of 70 cures related to Lourdes have been declared Miracles by the bishop of the cured person."

From publicity for a talk that I will have to miss.