The last day. A bittersweet moment actually. The Bible Studies and the Indaba's have been a blessing in so many ways. I know you have heard, and will hear more about how these did not work, but just remember there were 670 bishops here and many spouses as well. The vast majority of them shared today in our last day how much these discussions have meant. It was expressed that one cannot go through such an intensive experience and not leave changed. I feel that is very true, and I feel it myself.
My Bible Study was made up of bishops from South Africa, UK, Canada, Malaysia, and Japan. We have vowed to stay in touch and to pray for one another. We are exploring a Rule of Life together. The relationships are profound and it was exactly what was hoped for in the Archbishop's and the Design Team's work. The idea is, we cannot work out the very delicate and intricate issues that arise in this communion, without relationship.
After lunch, we entered the Big Top for one final time. It was a very cool day in Canterbury, with some rain as well, a lot like home! But that was welcomed as we all came into the Big Top. Upon our entering we were presented with the "Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections from the Lambeth Conference 2008." This was put together by the 16 member "listening" group. One member from each Indaba, with careful consideration to make sure there was as wide of representation as possible. The two Americans were Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta and Bishop Gerylyn Wolf of Rhode Island. Bishop Wolf actually was the representative from my Indaba. This group has worked around the clock, literally, and they were tired. It was not never proposed to be a document to solve things, not a legislative document, but a "reflection" of what we were about, and where our minds are right now, to the best of their ability. Many of you have probably read it more closely than I have had a chance to yet. Afterwards the Archbishop of York played the drums! Picture above!
At the plenary, the Archbishop thanked a lot of people. I was even included in one thank you as a leader of one of the Bible Studies. After those, we heard from our ecumenical partners who have been full participants in this process. Kallistos Ware, who is Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia of the Eastern Orthodox Church said, "your joys and sorrows are our joys and sorrows, and your problems are our problems, and if they are not yet our problems, they will be!" He went on to be quite clear about what he saw, we did not clear up everything, but he was also clear in saying, "I need you to be who I am!"
Jane Williams, the Archbishop's wife, led some from the Spouse's Conference in sharing their experiences. Thier experiences were much the same and resulted in some deep and abiding connections. Both the Archbishop and Mrs. Williams were given warm, and long, ovations.
We then boarded buses in route to Canterbury Cathedral for our closing Eucharist. We once again paraded down that street, past the Starbuck's, and through Christ Gate to the cathedral grounds. Again, stewards lined the streets to make a path, and to make sure we saw smiling faces, of which there were many.
The service was absolutely beautiful. I have provided one picture above that does not do it justice. The boy's and men's choirs sang. The Archbishop of Melenesia presided, the Archbishop of Canterbury preached, telling us to share the story, a story that should make "something happen." One of the most moving moments was toward the end. The names of the Melenesia martyrs murdered in 2000 were recieved by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He prayed over them and then the Melenesia brothers and sisters present took the names, along with the Archbishop of Melenesia, singing their litany of the saints and martyrs, a beautiful, haunting tune, as they did. Their singing would echo as it got fainter and fainter as they took the names to the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time.
We then were treated to a dinner on the grounds and then back to the University to pack, to get ready, in my case, for a 5 a.m. bus ride to Gatwick.
I will be posting one more time on this blog, my last reflection on this blog as Lambeth ends. I hope to post it tomorrow during my travels.
I hope this has been helpful to you. I have enjoyed doing it. I have very much enjoyed your comments. Some have commented with no way to respond, including one clergy from my diocese. Please know I would respond if I knew who you were!!
Until then, I leave you with a prayer used during the intercessions tonight at Canterbury Cathedral;
God our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity,
new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity;that the eternal message of your Son may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.