Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Credible Kingship of Jesus

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Gordon Square

Forward in Faith today welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury to its national headquarters at Christ the King, Gordon Square. Dr Williams was the preacher at the 10th annual Solemn Mass for the eve of Christ the King arranged by the London and Southwark Branches of FiF and a congregation of over 650 was present to hear him.

In his homily, the Archbishop said that, in a play, it is not the man who gets the part who plays the King; it is those around him who, by their actions, reveal his Kingship. So it should be with us. By our worship, by our thought and speech, we make credible the Kingship of Jesus before the world and, turning convention on its head, he demands that by service of the lowliest and neediest we proclaim his Kingship in them. Finally, in the Church, even in times of division and strife, we 'play the King' for Jesus, when we recognise his royal presence in all the baptised.

Read the rest here.


Anonymous Becca said...

I would be very interested in knowing what you thought.

11:18 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


The illustration of the play and the people living out, by their actions, the reality of the Kingship of Jesus through service is very similar to Jesus saying that the world will know us by the way we love one another. That is true. The latter part seems to be a suggestion on how we treat one another in great division. I think there is some deep truth to this and I believe what is said is important about how we go about our divisions. I don't think there ever has been disagreement over that but frustration at those in the play who through their own desires and wishes are in fact denying the Kingship of Jesus.

The issue is the depth and nature of the divisions. Can we live any way we please and the reality of the King's presence still be seen in us? Not only is the King's royalty darkened but the light of our baptism is as well. If this qualification is not added to the statements then the two cancel one another out. If our actions reveal His kingship, then our actions must also not take away from His kingship. If so, then not only is His presence taken from us, but from the world as well. This gets us to the nature of our divisions and I'm afraid the King is slipping further and further behind the curtain because many of the actors are claiming that their character is the true king. The lack of self denial to honour the King darkens his authority and rule in our lives.

8:07 am  
Blogger James the Thickheaded said...


I wonder though that there must be more than this alone to the sermon. The A-B is an insightful man. The comment that those around denote the kingship seems much to fine, so the synopsis -as sure as it is- must short-circuit somewhere...if only in my brain.

So I'm just not sure whether I follow it. The denial of Christ in his presence, during his earthly life, didn't change the fact that the Director still made a casting decision. And the lead followed the script. The director did not seem to regret his decision, but in fact was well pleased. There was no thought of selecting someone else. The King was and is still the King. So I'm sure this isn't what the A-B is saying, but calling for the other actors to play their roles in a way that "shows" right?

The matter of fealty to the king in exchange for his protection would be revealed in part through the actions of those around them....but not in action only but also in spirit, and not in spirit only but also in action.
As you flesh out, the oath of fealty would no doubt be Baptism for all believers, but more than that, it would specifically engage the priesthood and specifically the Bishops by their investiture? Their callings have additional responsibilities.

Sounds like an interesting sermon. The Archbishop has so far shown himself to be worthy of his responsibilities - especially as a thinker - even if perhaps he has at times been less disciplined about it according to some. The question of the moment is whether his leadership can rise to the task of healing a broken or fragmented communion. There were many of the royalty who led by example of piety and especially repentance and at times were able to shame rebellious nobles into renewed fealty. Often there were those among the nobles who were out-and-out rebellious, but undoubtedly there were others who rose to defend the realm because their direct "betters" either were unwilling or unable for one reason or another....at least for a time. The best among these simply saw themselves as place holders doing what they anticipated their "betters" would want. Nevertheless, in both cases, the precedence is turned upside down...and neither the wayward servant nor the good servant would be happy with the disorder.

If the whole of our church is now peopled with would-be kings, someone needs to lead by example in this path...not necessarily because he/she is either better or more sinful than the rest of us...but because someone has to go first. I would like to think that if someone went first, that even those who see themselves as without stain would repent as well...but I'm not sure. And it is this "not sure" that is the heart of the problem.

At anyrate, what I mean to suggest is that though there are some who think the Arch needs to repent and others who think that role falls to other parties, were the A-B to nevertheless lead the way...the mind wonders how much greater the possibilities might become. And though many, many seem to write that our church is under judgment, no one seems to think our place or theirs to be worthy of beginnng with a real sense of prayer and penitence. Or if they do...they seems to all think this begins, as always, with "the other guy". This is a real problem from which there is not likely another way out. We have been blessed with good leadership in Rome for some time now....one wonders that the impact of a truly penitent A-B wouldn't add a similar luminescence to the Anglican identity.

Ah, but we regrettably seem to live by the Old Testament ethic instead:

"Behold the dreamer. Let us slay him and see what becomes of his dreams."

4:14 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

James, I don't know that I actually gather your point. It may be my thickheadedness and not yours! :-) Thanks for the comment. My comment is not a rejection of the ABC's sermon merely adding what qualifications come along with a divided communion. The question is, why is it divided? Not over liturgical matters; Evangelical or Anglo-Catholic, but serious moral issues that do reflect the nature of our place in the "play". How do we get to the essence of the division and find unity as that would be the clear sign of His dwelling amongst us?

4:43 pm  
Blogger James the Thickheaded said...


Peter Toon suggests these same "moral issues" really seem to have a basis in order. Departure from the traditions of the church if you will. His point I think is that we have ALL departed in some way. Some in practice only, but institutionally more in matters of Prayerbook, Formularies and Ordinations. Inspired as it has been by the merging of the secular into the religious realm, this has wrought a wrenching split within the latter. Further, Toon seems to suggest that restoration of union likely entails restoration of order on these matters.

A lot of lipservice regretting this circumstance but precious little action that suggests that hearts really want to overcome the divisions. In the US, this seems more true than folks are willing to admit: I think the two parties really may be incompatible and are only too happy with the prospect of ridding themselves of the other.

Seems to me the point of repair is to change this mindset...a matter that would take some sort of extraodinary event - unfortunately. So my focus lay on that which might get hearts to change...and I thought from your notes part of the allusion in the A-B's sermon. Overcoming the pettiness among provinces erected ostensibly to preserve order will, it seems to me, entail a willingness of ALL parties for repentance and renewal. Are we really willing to go there? Time is ripe, but I'm not sure whether there's really been any preparations for reunion.

Was that at all the track this was on? If not, sorry....just assume I got confused. Or as Rosanne Rosanna Danna would have said, "Never mind."

6:10 pm  
Anonymous The Common Anglican said...


I am wondering if a FiF non-geographical province will ever come into fruition. Have you heard of this over in the UK?


6:19 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...


Yes. FiF UK is strongly suggesting that the only way forward here in the C of E is a third province. We presently have PEV's or "Flying Bishops" for parishes that have voted the resolutions to not allow women priests celebrate mass or to have a bishop who ordains women to be their episcopal visitor. This was what was offered by Synod when the Synod voted to allow women to be ordained as priests.

What I have come to see within my present diocese is a very gracious and understanding relationship with the PEV for Durham and our Diocesan Bishop. I have seen nothing but respect, love and understanding on both sides in this situation and have found it quite refreshing. I think it depends on who the "players" are. When you have bishops who are not out for "power" but Gospel ministry, it can work. It's not the best of situations but what is the alternative in the present climate? There seems to be some sort of structural provision forthcoming but no one knows what that will look like at this point. Time will tell. The February Synod is due to report on it in some fashion. We'll see. In the meantime one can only pray for this situation.

6:37 pm  

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