Saturday, October 28, 2006

One Church, One Hope - Rowan Williams' lecture

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, delivered an amazing lecture in August, 2006 on "One Church, One Hope." My friend, Scott P let me know about this lecture earlier this fall, but I finally found time to read it carefully and fully ... I quote Archbishop Rowan twice below ...

"In Eph. 4, we are told that as Christians we have one hope as we have one Lord, one faith and one baptism, one God and Father. To have one hope is the sign of our one calling, so it appears in this passage. And the common life of the Body of Christ which is discussed in this chapter of Ephesians is clearly manifest in the unity of our hope. Do we need to say, then, that the unity of Christians becomes most visible when Christians visibly share one hope? And what does sharing one hope mean?

The rest of this section of Ephesians gives us a powerful clue. We are called together so that we may grow together towards the fullness of humanity that is Jesus Christ. To have one hope is to move away from the ‘childish’ state in which we are blown around by the motivations, thoughts or ideas of the moment or by the manipulation of others. Maturity is possessing some kind of steady identity – having settled conviction and purposes, and having some awareness of what it is that each has to give into the common life of the community of believers. What we hope for is a humanity in which human gifts flow together, in which the strength of each is resourced from the strength of others, and the strength of each is offered for the strength of others. The one hope is inseparable from the nourishing of diverse strengths. It is about helping each other to become as fully adult in belief and activity as each can be.

In this light, we could say that our one hope was connected with our responsibility to and for each other. In the new creation, in the universe redefined by Christ, no-one reaches or enjoys maturity in isolation; to grow up is not to reach independence in the abstract but to arrive at that kind of understanding of yourself and others that enables you to direct your resource – inner and outer – to the other, taking responsibility for their nurture as they do for yours."

"Everything thus depends upon the sequence spelled out in our text from Ephesians. We are one Body – one diversified, interdependent form of life – animated by one Spirit – one divine agency bestowed upon us to free us to pray. We thus recognise one hope, depending on the single calling we have together received from the one Lord; we respond with one act of trust and self-commitment to the divine Source of all, which we are now enabled to address with the intimacy of a child. And in that childlike intimacy, we learn the maturity we need, Christ’s own fullness and liberty; we become free from manipulation and shallow instability. All serious thinking about the Church’s structures and the Church’s engagement in the world begins here and must return here for testing and discernment. Our own identity as Catholic communities must be defended on this ground, not on any reactive anti-papalism, nor as a pragmatic middle way. In all humility, we need to be able to say that our structures and culture are our gift to the universal Church, our way of living out our one hope in the midst of human diversity; and we invite our brothers and sisters of other confession and traditions to be open to this, as we seek to be open to what God has given them."

1 comment:

Eliz F said...

Peter, isn't it interesting that the esteemed Archbishop has not yet inspired any comments on your blog, whereas the Breakfast Club received five? ;-)

Perhaps we're just enjoying the end of the break too much to get very deep...