Sunday, July 03, 2005


This from Rowan Williams' recent centenary sermon for the Anglican Consultative Council. (The picture, of Williams but unrelated, is actually from yesterday's 100 year celebrations for the Diocese of Southwark, where I worked from 1991-96 as adviser in adult education and training. Happy memories, mostly. I commemorated the end of the Lay Training Team there in a book called Expanding Horizons: Learning to Be the Church in the World (1995). Anyway, back to Rowan and his fine address:

"The relation between Jews and Gentiles in the Acts [of the Apostles] is not simply that of one racial group to another. As the story is presented to us, it’s a story about a great crisis over what faith really is, and what salvation really is. The strict believers who challenge Paul and Barnabas and have no small dissension and debate with them – one of Luke’s wonderfully tactful phrases – those strict believers are in effect saying it is possible to know that you are in the favour of God. Be circumcised, keep the law, and when you are alone in the silence of your room, you will know where to turn to be sure; you will know what your record is. You will know that you have the signs that make you acceptable to God. To which Paul and Barnabas, and the Church ever since have replied, ‘There is no sign by which you can tell in and of yourself that you are acceptable to God. There is nothing about you that guarantees love, salvation, healing, and peace. But there is everything about God in Jesus Christ that assures you, and so if you want to know where your certainty lies, look to God, not to yourself.’ Don’t tick off the conditions that might possible make God love you, scoring highly, perhaps, and thinking, ‘So God must love me after all.’ Begin rather by looking into the face of the love of God in Jesus Christ, and then, as it were, out of your bewilderment and your speechlessness at that love, thinking, ‘And yes, I am loved.’ Not just one episode, you see, in the history of the Church, but almost another Pentecost."

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