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THOUGHTS ON +ROWAN’S SECOND PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS

I think that the dreadful thing about all this is that the point is obvious and fundamental. It is as if a veil has been drawn across our collective eyes. To follow Jesus is to walk to the Cross collectively and individually. We are to die. Death means the surrendering of everything.

We are to believe that such a surrender isn’t a bargain in order to receive “eternal life”. Death is just that. Death IS death. Death to all we are and have and think. I’ve long loved this little bit from Robert Llewelyn in his book “The Joy of the Saints”:

“It is indeed the way to which Jesus points: ‘He who loses his life for my sake shall find it.’ I recall when I was first ordained being pulled up sharply when I misquoted this verse, saying that Jesus said that we must lose our lives in order to find them. In fact he said no such thing. We are not bidden to die in order that we might live -this is to be no nicely calculated venture embarked upon in order to bring in rich returns -but rather, in the Pauline phrase, it is a matter of ‘dying and behold we live’. What is asked of us looks like loss, has every appearance of loss, and in the nakedness of faith the plunge is taken. Jesus did not die upon the cross in order that he might rise again. He died, was truly dead, and behold God raised him. With Saint Paul the saints die daily, and with every death there is a rising to a deeper and fuller measure of the resurrection life. So by many deaths are they prepared -as we shall be toofor the final plunge into the ocean of God’s love.”

We believe in that sure and certain hope that God will create us anew. Newness implies change. “We shall be changed.” We have no right to ask God to reserve certain sections of our existence and keep them the way we like them. Daring to die is the greatest “risk” in living. Daring to die to our greatest and most informed beliefs and aspirations, not because they are necessarily wrong, but because they must be transformed by and in grace is that necessary action some have institutionalized into what is called “conversion.” For us it means Baptism but a baptism done once but lived into daily.

+Rowan is asking our bishops on our behalf to risk such a death. Ironically it is the province which makes the most of Baptism which seems less able to penetrate the radical nature of the sacrament. The very systems we have adopted in the church by which to make decisions imply that some will win, will hold on to what they want, and others will lose and even lose the things they most cherish. +Rowan has challenged all sides in the present war to dare surrender at the Cross as the way to renewal and revival. Perhaps he could have said more. Perhaps he said enough!

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