If we get past the means of the disclosure of this, the worst kept secret ever - it is important to note that the next out-working of God's calling in another human life is now before us.
This, for those who have been living in a lead-lined box in the last week, is the Rt Revd Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham and man selected to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He will, of course, succeed Rowan Williams to a job which places him at the nominal or actual spiritual head of the Anglican Communion and our own blessed Church of England.
I know little of this man, and what I know I will state. He was ordained in 1992, is from the evangelical tradition, takes a biblically-based worldview, held a successful career in the oil industry before priesthood, itself perhaps precipitated by the tragedy of the death of his baby daughter. A bishop a mere year, he has shown promise on the international front, coming as he does with an instinct and knowledge for the world of finance and commerce. I don't own any of his books, or know if he has written any, so know little else about this man beyond what is stated above.
I hope that this appointment bring some things to pass:
- That the church can start to look to the future
- That we learn afresh to live as one church defined by a generosity among our internal differences
- That we acquire a leader who is first a man of prayer and conspicuous humility and holiness but also a credible man of the world who is gifted in the language of the world we live in now.
- That we acquire a spiritual leader who has the courage to be authentically himself, and not a puppet in the unfolding drama of the church
- That we acquire a leader who, among us all, has the most hope for our shared future
The Church of England in particular appears to be such a divided place these days. The ambitions that surround 'self' and 'rights' seem to dominate the agenda for us as an organisation for whom the notion of 'self' is better framed in the language of 'selflessness', that 'rights' are matched and exceeded by Christian responsibility. Whatever the rights and wrongs of each individual case, we have fast become a group of people synonymous with infighting, yet a group of people mandated by Christ to look beyond ourselves to meet the needs of a world in so much peril.
I pray for this man, doing a job that will afford him little thanks. I pray for this man to whom I must be loyal, that his ministry be fruitful, that God's work be done through him and the sacred office he will hold. I pray for this man (and his family) who will, for the next decade or so, will be one of the most visible humans on the planet. I pray for those whose call was not to this office, despite their own private hope or belief and for those whose job was to discern God's will in this process. I pray for the Communion he will soon lead, that we all find the grace to puts God's will first.