Remember, the supreme wonder of the Christian Church is that always in the moments when it has seemed most dead, out of its own body there has sprung up new life; so that in age after age it has renewed itself, and age after age by its renewal has carried the world forward into new stages of progress, as it will do for us in our day, if only we give ourselves in devotion to its Lord and take our place in its service.
William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1942–44
Christian Faith and Life, SCM, 1963, p133
IT’S NOT JUST OUR HEATED DEBATES about who’s really to be described as Anglican (or just plain “Christian”) and who’s not;
not just our perpetual concerns with the nature of authority, autonomy, belonging and vocation;
not just the abiding (too often dehumanising) circular debates about human sexuality;
not just the alarming trends in favour of Biblical fundamentalism;
not just a tendency towards saccharine ‘makes me feel good’ offerings of “Worship” or “Praise”;
not just our constantly looking over our shoulders and wondering what other Christian denominations are thinking of us;
not just the disagreeableness of those who set themselves up to judge “who’s in and who’s out”;
not just my hunch that the fiercely defended (but non-too-willingly paid for) porticoes of our man-made temples may well fall down and crush us;
not just my gnawing shame about our abiding care-less-ness – whether through unjust sharing of basic resources or too great a complacency in the face of present day warfare;
not just my constantly wondering “where the funds are going to come from”, that are of enormous concern to me at this moment in English Church history:
Of greater concern by far is the sense I have, too frequently, that the public accounting of our religious institutions barely remembers Almighty God, barely asks what Jesus would have to say to, or about, any or all of the above.
So I’m grateful to a great Archbishop I’ve only ever read about. I’m grateful to Archbishop William Temple who called the Church to pay attention to a supreme wonder in her own midst and of her own self: the “Body of Christ”, our only hope, and the best, the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
May our “Covenant” with the Life of Almighty God in every man, woman and child upon earth, of every shade and hue of faith and none, be renewed. Jesus advocated nothing less. May we approach the things of God – and his beloved humankind perhaps especially – with a renewed and deeper humility, may we at least try to embrace any and all our present-day “outcasts” remembering that “we’re no longer strangers but pilgrims”, moved to gratitude because
age after age by its renewal [the Church] has carried the world forward into new stages of progress, as it will do for us in our day, if only we give ourselves in devotion to its Lord and take our place in its service.