The Archbishop of Canterbury preached at a service to mark the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica at a service in the National Arena in Independence Park, Kingston. Some 8,000 people filled the indoor arena which had been transformed into a liturgical space overnight.
He preached first on the first lesson, Acts 4:23-37 noting that the disciples spoke with such boldness that lives were changed and a new kind of community was born. In the Jerusalem community there was not one needy person – when the Spirit comes and the word is spoken the church is a community where there are no persons in need. He asked if ours is a community in which there are still people in need and answered, of course, yes. We are still on the way to becoming the church God wants us to be. Are we, Archbishop Rowan asked, prepared to be a Christian community where there is no-one in need. Including LGBT people, I thought to myself.
Needs go deeper than the material he continued. We need forgiveness, reconciliation, justice. Those who are hungry and thirsty for justice are blessed. Are we as a Communion meeting one another’s need for a word of hope or reconciliation? Who needs my forgiveness? Who am I hungry to hear a word of hope from? These words felt personal and challenging.
Turning to the gospel, John 10:11-16, Archbishop Rowan said God has met our need by putting himself completely at our service. So that we may live, God holds nothing back, pouring himself out. The hunger and need of the world are met by the gift of ourselves in prayer and love, if we take the great risk of letting go of what feels safe. Sadly, what we tend to do in conflict with others is say that I am right, which makes me feel safe.
In the Eucharist we bring the passionate, devouring hunger of human beings to hear the word of hope. We go out from the Eucharist committed to feed others from the food we have received. We take into our hearts and lives the promise of the Good Shepherd.
I heard a sermon preached to all of us who long for universal justice and love in the world and in our Communion, justice for the poor and hungry as well as justice for the oppressed and marginalised, the excluded and vulnerable, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members of our Communion as well as the members of GAFCON, ACNA, Anglican Mainstream and the American Anglican Council.