Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wisdom from York

As someone who once lived in Uganda, I follow with keen interest news about Uganda and Ugandans. I was therefore glued to the television today for the ordination of Bishop John Sentamu as the new Archbishop of York. Bishop John Sentamu is a Ugandan. He fled that country during the rule of the dictator Idi Amin Dada. His friend, Janan Luwum, the Archbishop of Uganda had been killed by Amin and Sentamu thought it wise to leave the country. Bishop Sentamu is an earnest man with great zeal for the Lord and a heart of service. An outspoken critic against racism, he has also called upon the English not to be ashamed of their heritage. This is very heartening in these days of self-loathing leftism.

I loved Bishop Sentamu's inauguration sermon. He spoke of the role of the Church in today's world. He lamented the fact that the Church has become life-enhancing, rather than life-changing, and challenged us as Christians to cease to be 'consumers of religion', and become disciples of Christ. He spoke of the power and joy that makes real disciples; the recognition of the fact that Jesus Christ did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

The Archbishop also stated that the vital issue facing the church in this country is the loss of the country’s long tradition of Christian wisdom which brought to birth the English nation. I am inclined to agree. Everywhere we turn, we see the erosion of Christian values. The consequences are not pretty.

Sentamu spoke a diagnostic sermon of loss, challenge and dedication. There were enough jokes and anecdotes to keep things moving. He spoke of the scandal and glory of the Church, but he also spoke of the hope for the future. The hope that the churches in Asia and Africa to whom the English missionaries took the gospel would rejuvenate the Church in England with their zeal and faith. He quoted the words of Archbishop Michael Ramsey in 1960, who longed for the day a black Archbishop of York would speak to a future generation of the scandal and glory of the Church.

That day came today. I am glad I witnessed it.
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