I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned that the weather has been very hot down here in Kent. Hot for me at least, though cold for some of my African friends. Crucially, it’s been dry; rain would have made our long walks across the campus very difficult.
The final bible study of the conference took place this morning. The highlight was an interview with Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, Primate of All Kenya, who told of his youth, when, as a young Masai man, he was expected to hunt lions. (St Peter speaks of the devil being like a ‘prowling lion’). Disappointingly, the interview was on video because Archbishop Jackson had decided not to come to the Conference.
Today we dealt with a Call on Discipleship; the Plenary session left me underwhelmed. Our baptism promises commit us to following Christ and we are called to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in us and through us. This call must certainly lead us to serve others and may sometimes plunge us into real suffering, as many of our sisters and brothers across the globe perhaps know better than we do. All this is a given. But I was concerned that lurking behind the various inputs was the apparently unquestioned assumption that there are ‘nominal Christians’ and there are ‘Christian Disciples’ – bad Christians and good Christians. I could go on at length about this… but won’t! You’ll find a much kinder take on the subject in my conversation with Bishop Ernest Flemming, Bishop of the Northeastern Caribbean and Aruba.
Archbishop Welby was on good form for his second keynote address where he underlined some of the gains of the week. ‘We have disagreed without hatred,’ he said. There was an urgency about his message which implied (to me, at any rate) that it’s time to stop all the arguing about matters that need not divide us and get on with changing the world, along the lines of the Magnificat. Outward focus, not inward.