Sunday 28 October - I love cathedrals and organ music as well as choirs or orchestras, as most of you know by now. This morning’s opening service was held at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland, and led in Maori, English and Tongan by the three Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached. It all touched me deep in my love for cathedrals with all their aesthetics and well prepared worship. It was not a grand service as we might do in most of our cathedral services, but a meaningful service and just about the right tempo.
Archbishop Rowan broke the word for us, and with a beautiful choice of words explained the passage from John's gospel (Jn 15: 17-27) profoundly to us. He spoke about God’s undeserved love for us, that calls us as church not only to work to share this love, but to be it in the world. We should see the world as not a dichotomy of ‘us and them’ but as existing in us and within the church and deserving of the unconditional, causeless, love of God . This is the overwhelming, unreasonable, reckless love of God which pours into us in spite of ourselves and often we would rather wish it was not the case . The ACC was called and challenged in truth and love to wrestle with what was before us. (You can read Archbishop Rowan’s sermon at http://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/Features/love-without-cause, or watch the podcast at http://www.aco.org/acns/news.cfm/2012/10/28/ACNS5217.)
This afternoon, we will get to experience first-hand the work of the networks, see the displays of information they are providing for us, and learn of the varied nature of the Communion’s engagement with mission. Communion networks include Health, Indigenous People, Colleges and Universities, the Environment, Peace and Justice, Inter-Faith, Families, Women, Youth, and the HIV and AIDS network of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa. I am proud that in a humble way, our Province contributes to these and the global life of the Communion, with Delene in the Peace and Justice network and Rachel in the Environment network. These networks are important, and I am sure you will see the parallels with ACSA’s 8 Provincial mission priorities that seek to give our Anglican identity "flesh" in context. Just as we seek to resource our Dioceses and Parishes through these priorities, so we too can be resourced from the Communion-wide work of the networks. Later in the programme there will be resolutions that will come from these networks, which will encourage the Communion to share the love of God, that Archbishop Rowan spoke about, in Gods world in practical terms.
The communications team has asked me to work with the local radio station to field some questions in an interview about what the Anglican Consultative Council is, and about our meeting’s programme. If there is a link, I will send it tomorrow after the interview.
This morning, I spent some time chatting with a judge from Kenya. He is positive about belonging to a bigger church and also found the sermon this morning affirming and challenging. As a judge objectivity and reasonableness are the tools of his trade. He felt able to sit back and engage with what the Archbishop of Canterbury said, rather than feeling disempowered because he was not a cleric, or sufficiently theologically trained. He also marvelled at how South Africa was able to avert a catastrophe through a negotiated settlement, instead of descending into war against the apartheid regime. This is a miracle that I continue to find that most people around the world still appreciate, while increasing numbers of us in South Africa either take it lightly or forget its enormity. I added that this was a living example of the underserved and reckless love of God of which Archbishop Rowan talked, which we experienced in reality in South Africa’s liberation.
Let me end on a personal note. I put through a call to home and spoke with Lungi and the kids, and shared with them that my room is on the third floor, overlooking Auckland harbour, where there are ships and actively working boats. I feel a bit like I am in Table Bay, in Cape Town, on a day when you can't see the mountain! There is a lot of bird life around the hotel, although I have not been able to identify what type of birds. Their singing and the sounds they make fill the heart with life. The flowers and hedged fence feel more familiar than foreign, and so does the weather with its high veld-type of spring clouds. These sufficiently shield the sun and calm the day, though hold a not so distant possibility of rain.