Dear Cathedral family,
In a recent facebook post, the Archbishop of Canterbury, ++ Justin Welby, wrote:
“The renewal of prayer is my highest priority – in myself constantly and in the church – because it’s the only way we’re conformed to the likeness of God, and united with one another. If we pray together it’s harder to divide and harder to despair. A church that prays will find renewal because it finds the reality of God. The method is neither here nor there – the reality is the way in which we find the identities and identity together to which we are called.”
It may well be that two defining events for 2016 will be ongoing student protests on campuses, following on from the #feesmustfall campaign; and the war on terror, as the ISIS group extends its reach and its attacks into the UK and the USA, and as countries retaliate. The impact of these two events, here in our own country, and globally, are likely to be immense.
As a parent with two children at university next year and beyond, and as pastor and priest here in our own community, with many students, academics and admin/support staff, I am personally aware of how much is at stake for us all, and how fragile things are. My appeal, as negotiations are continuing, and as plans are being made for next academic year, is that we keep talking; that we do not allow the situation to deteriorate into destructive conflict, militant hostility, anger, hatred and fear. The terror attacks in Europe and parts of Africa are a sobering picture of what happens when talking stops and there appears to be no other way except violence. When groups try to force and impose their will on others, as is being done by Islamic militants and extreme radical groups, that is a sure way to conflict and destruction.
Where is Jesus in all this? That will be our question in the months ahead. The Gospel figure of John the Baptist came to prepare the way of the Lord. John points us to see Jesus. His answer, in today’s Gospel reading, to the questions of the soldiers and tax collectors, gives personal responsibility to each one of us. They are to do what is right; not to abuse their authority; not to misuse their position for personal gain; not to oppress others. It is a word of encouragement: that you and I can make a difference, when we do what is right. We are a sign of Christ in our troubled world and angry, restless country. And, as Archbishop Justin says, to pray, so that we may be “conformed to the likeness of God, and united with one another.”
My love to you all