There are many things about which one might pray at the moment, and while I’m not advocating sacrificing any of them in favour of this particular issue, I do think it’s important. Please, if you pray, pray for the newly-appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Revd Justin Welby, currently Bishop of Durham. If you want to know more about him, I can recommend this thoughtful article.
The Church of England does not have a stunning track record for spotting and encouraging prophets, but I am starting to think that we are living in a time that needs prophets more than ever – we need prophets within and outside the church, who can help us see the wood for the trees and start to become the sort of church that God would like to have in the world. And that, in turn, will start to enable the church to become the prophetic voice that the world also needs.
Increasingly, I am afraid of the institution of the church – the sheer weight of it, the sluggish speed of its decision making, the baggage that it carries around, often seeming to leave no hands free actually to be the body of Christ and to undertake his work of blessing and healing and reconciling. We are ‘busy with many things’ and I suspect that many of us do not feel that there is enough slack in the system for us to make brave, prophetic choices about what church looks like and feels like and how church actually works at a local, let alone national or international level. It is as if we have imprisoned the body of Christ in an institution. Financially, the church is in trouble. We may well not be able to sustain the standard of living to which we have been accustomed, but when the bailiffs come round they cannot take our silver (because we’re not able to sell it) – instead they repossess our servants (our ministers) leaving half-empty houses full of riches, and nobody to care for them.
OK, so I’m having a bad day, clearly. But even on a good day, I worry. I worry that our new ABC will be the one who presides over the end, and that makes me want to pray for him. But equally I worry that we will continue to limp along for the next 10 years, deluding ourselves that change isn’t necessary, and keeping up with the trappings of our former glory until there’s suddenly nothing left and we all get jobs feeding the pigs.
We need, urgently, to rediscover what God wants us to be and to do. The question for me is, can our new Archbishop help us get our act together? Please?
OK rant over.