The Church Times reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury preached in York Minster Sunday and he urged General Synod members to relinquish the attempt to control their future; for that way they would be freer to encounter God. Many who heard the sermon say it was both moving and a defining moment.
The full text of the sermon may be found here .
Ruth Gledhill blogged her impressions of the sermon:
Sitting here in the magnificence of York Minster, I am hearing the most incredible sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am going to blog it live, right away. Maybe this is overstating it, but it feels from my seat in the north transept, with my fellow ‘sinners’ of the press close by, as though he’s just saved the Church of England. A few people here are close to tears. The Archbishop always comes over better in the presence than on paper, and never more so than this morning. He has completely justified what the Archbishop of York said in his defence yesterday, as we report in The Sunday Times.
He took as his text the Hebrew Bible story of Joseph thrown into the waterless pit by his brothers. And he asked the General Synod members, facing the crucial debate tomorrow on women bishops and with Lambeth and debates over homosexuality casting their shadows,’What would Jesus do? Where would Jesus be?’
The Archbishop said: ‘What would Jesus do is a good question to ask. Where would Jesus be is just as good. Who would Jesus be with is a question the Gospels force on our attention again and again.
‘In the middle of all our discussion at Synod, where would Jesus be? Jesus is going to be with those who feel the waterlessness of their position.
Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Sunday Telegraph:
It was a little after half past ten when the Archbishop of Canterbury shuffled up the steps of the pulpit in York Minster to address the hushed congregation.
After six years in the post, this could well become a defining moment for Dr Rowan Williams – the time when the real Archbishop appeared before his Church.
He has been weighed down by the crises that have engulfed the Anglican communion virtually ever since his arrival at Lambeth – pulled this way and that by the warring factions in the battles over homosexuality and women bishops.
Today, however, he grew in stature as the sermon went on, emerging by the end of it as the leader that the Anglican communion so desperately needs – compassionate yet direct and vulnerable yet firm.
Referring to the story of Joseph being thrown down into a waterless pit and left for dead by his brothers, the archbishop attempted to reach out to all those, in and outside the Church, who feel deserted.
In a sermon charged with emotion and feeling, but delivered with poise and unflinching stoicism, he set out his inclusive, all embracing vision for the Church.
. . . .
It is a shame that extending support to homosexuals in the Church should be a bold move, but it was and the Minster’s congregation knew that; particularly considering that conservative Anglicans have just formed a rival church in response to the liberal attitude of the Western churches on the issue.
However, Dr Williams is not going to be cowed anymore into trying to appease everyone. That was what came across from his sermon.
He has done his best to keep everyone within the Anglican fold since he was made Archbishop, but now he is going to say what he thinks. And what he feels.
Was this a defining moment, the advent of a ++Rowan who is through being pushed around or was this a clearer, more poetic ++Rowan warning those who have held off change for so long that they may have to learn to live in a different place? What do you think?