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'Walk in the light with each other': Archbishop Justin's sermon in Mexico

Thursday 15th August 2013

Archbishop Justin preached this sermon during a Holy Eucharist at Hotel Quinta Real in Monterrey, Mexico on Tuesday 13 August 2013

In the sermon, the Archbishop says "light is the answer" to the troubles of the Anglican Communion.

"There must not be politics in dark corners, but love expressed in the light, even love expressing difference," he says, adding that this will secure the church to help the poor and "draw others to light". 

The full text of the sermon follows: 

'Walk into the light'

Commemoration of Jeremy Taylor

Romans 14:7-9, 10b-12, Psalm 139: 1-10, Matthew 24: 42-47

Thank you for your warm welcome, and for the great pleasure of being with you and sharing this time together. In each of the three provinces I have been to on this trip, there has been the experience of learning, ofseeing and of realising what a wonderful gift we have from God in belonging to one another.

As you know, in the Anglican calendar today is the Commemoration of Jeremy Taylor. It is a good choice in a country like Mexico, where Anglicans are a small minority, to draw on the wisdom of a Bishop who in an age of cruelty proclaimed toleration and respect for different opinions. 
"It is unnatural and unreasonable to persecute disagreeing opinions: ... you may as well cure the colic by brushing another man’s clothes. Force in matters of opinion can do no good, but is very apt to do hurt...”  Taylor wrote those words at a time of civil war and rebellion, when even to suggest toleration was to risk prison – and he went there. The very existence of the state was felt to be threatened if there was variety of religious belief.
I sometimes worry that as Anglicans we are drifting back in that direction. Not consciously, of course, but in an unconscious way that is more dangerous. Like a drunk man walking near the edge of a cliff, we trip and totter and slip and wander, ever nearer to the edge of the precipice. 
It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present. On one side is the steep fall into an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message. On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question. When we fall into this place, we lose touch with human beings and create a small church, or rather many small churches – divided, ineffective in serving the poor, the hungry and the suffering, incapable of living with each other, and incomprehensible to those outside the church.  
We struggle with each other at a time when the Anglican Communion's great vocation as bridge builder is more needed than ever. Opportunities are opening all over the place. Small churches in the Middle East find themselves asked to support efforts to contain conflict. In England a few thoughts about the need for justice for the poor in financial services have led to the very beginning of great efforts to change the systems of  community finance which exclude so many vulnerable people.
So what do we do? Archbishops and their wives can go round the world trying to encourage people to be nice, but it does not really work. In the readings is the theme of light and darkness, whether physical or emotional. In the great East African Revival they used the expression, 'walk in the light'.
Walk in the light with God.  The psalmist cannot escape the light of God, and rejoices that in good times and bad God lights up His life. To walk in the light is to receive and live in that light in confession, in daily conversion of life, to renew our love for Him.
Walk in the light with each other. 
The Christians in Rome are to be alive emotionally to their fellow believers. Chapter 14 is not principally about life and death, but about living lives that see the light in others within the church – even where we disagree with them.
Walk in the light with the world around. The householder is to keep the light ready and the slave to keep his life alight with integrity so that the return of the Lord is reward and not fear. The gospel passage is full of the realistic fears of those times where every life was at risk always, and every householder his own police force. Many here know the reality of that in their own experience. Walking in the light sets a pattern of courage in a fearful world, a pattern that is deeply attractive to those in darkness. 
Light is the answer to the troubles of the Communion, to enable us to find our true way and to serve our world. There must not be politics in dark corners, but love expressed in the light, even love expressing difference. In that light we will be secure enough to be churches that reach out, serve the poor, and draw others to light, as a lighted house draws the weary traveller. 

As you know, in the Anglican calendar today is the Commemoration of Jeremy Taylor. It's a good choice in a country like Mexico, where Anglicans are a small minority, to draw on the wisdom of a Bishop who in an age of cruelty proclaimed toleration and respect for different opinions. 

"It is unnatural and unreasonable to persecute disagreeing opinions: ... you may as well cure the colic by brushing another man’s clothes. Force in matters of opinion can do no good, but is very apt to do hurt...”  Taylor wrote those words at a time of civil war and rebellion, when even to suggest toleration was to risk prison – and he went there. The very existence of the state was felt to be threatened if there was variety of religious belief.

I sometimes worry that as Anglicans we are drifting back in that direction. Not consciously, of course, but in an unconscious way that is more dangerous. Like a drunk man walking near the edge of a cliff, we trip and totter and slip and wander, ever nearer to the edge of the precipice. 

It is a dangerous place, a narrow path we walk as Anglicans at present. On one side is the steep fall into an absence of any core beliefs, a chasm where we lose touch with God, and thus we rely only on ourselves and our own message. On the other side there is a vast fall into a ravine of intolerance and cruel exclusion. It is for those who claim all truth, and exclude any who question. When we fall into this place, we lose touch with human beings and create a small church, or rather many small churches – divided, ineffective in serving the poor, the hungry and the suffering, incapable of living with each other, and incomprehensible to those outside the church.  

We struggle with each other at a time when the Anglican Communion's great vocation as bridge builder is more needed than ever. Opportunities are opening all over the place. Small churches in the Middle East find themselves asked to support efforts to contain conflict. In England a few thoughts about the need for justice for the poor in financial services have led to the very beginning of great efforts to change the systems of  community finance which exclude so many vulnerable people.

So what do we do? Archbishops and their wives can go round the world trying to encourage people to be nice, but it does not really work. In the readings is the theme of light and darkness, whether physical or emotional. In the great East African Revival they used the expression, 'walk in the light'.

Walk in the light with God.  The psalmist cannot escape the light of God, and rejoices that in good times and bad God lights up His life. To walk in the light is to receive and live in that light in confession, in daily conversion of life, to renew our love for Him.

Walk in the light with each other. 

The Christians in Rome are to be alive emotionally to their fellow believers. Chapter 14 is not principally about life and death, but about living lives that see the light in others within the church – even where we disagree with them.

Walk in the light with the world around. The householder is to keep the light ready and the slave to keep his life alight with integrity so that the return of the Lord is reward and not fear. The gospel passage is full of the realistic fears of those times where every life was at risk always, and every householder his own police force. Many here know the reality of that in their own experience. Walking in the light sets a pattern of courage in a fearful world, a pattern that is deeply attractive to those in darkness. 

Light is the answer to the troubles of the Communion, to enable us to find our true way and to serve our world. There must not be politics in dark corners, but love expressed in the light, even love expressing difference. In that light we will be secure enough to be churches that reach out, serve the poor, and draw others to light, as a lighted house draws the weary traveller. 

 


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