Monday, December 05, 2005

John SentAmu - Archbishop of York

Last week, Dr. John Sentamu was installed as the Archbishop of York - the first African primate in Britain.
In all its 700 years, York Minster has never seen an installation of an archbishop quite like it, with African dancing in the nave and rhythmic chanting shivering the medieval tracery. It is an even safer bet that it has never seen an archbishop of the Church of England pounding the bongo drums at his own inauguration, or anyone else's for that matter, and not only because until the 19th century archbishops did not usually bother to turn up to the service at all.

But then the Church of England has never had a black archbishop before. Yesterday the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Ugandan-born and once an asylum-seeker, was coming into his own as, by Divine Providence, Lord Archbishop, Primate of England and Metropolitan, in the footsteps of 96 predecessors with names like Eborius, St Paulinus and Ecgbeorht.

His sermon echoed with his strong convictions.
The scandal of the church is that the Christ-event is no longer life-changing, it has become life-enhancing. We’ve lost the joy and power that makes real disciples, and we’ve become consumers of religion and not disciples of Jesus Christ. The call to corporate discipleship is a call to God’s promised glory. For Christ did for us that which we couldn’t do for ourselves.

He quoted from the late David Watson, an Anglican pastor who I had the opportunity of taking a course with:
“Christians in the West, have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority of Western Christians are church-members, pew-fillers, hymn-singers, sermon-tasters, Bible-readers, even born-again believers or Spirit-filled Charismatics – but aren’t true disciples of Jesus Christ.

If we were willing to learn the meaning of real discipleship and actually to become disciples, the Church in the West would be transformed, and the resultant impact on society would be staggering.”

In a world of trouble and change Dr Sentamu's words bring hope.
God is working in the world today quite beyond the limits of our budgets, structures and expectation. His gospel, lived out in corporate-discipleship, has the power to transform our individual and corporate lives, our families, our communities and our nations. It has the power to break beyond our timidity and insufficiency. The voice of God is active today as it has been down the centuries – provoking us to move, change, and recognise who we are and what – by God’s help – we can become.

No comments: