For those of you with young children who are resident in the Great British Isles, you may be forgiven for thinking that I am about to talk about Mr. Tumble. It may be that time will tell, but it is not my raison d'embarkation!
Today is an important day. Today we greet, with a joyful heart, our new leader and Uber-Shepherd - one Justin Welby as he starts his ministerial journey at the wheel of the Church of England, and also to the Anglican Communion around the world. May God bless him richly, each and every day.
Today is an important day because we, the Holy Tenants of God, have a new landlord. For priests, this is our equivalent (sort of) of that which our parishioners experienced when we processed into our new churches after the last interregnum. It is a time of uncertainty, gladness certainly, but a sense of wonder as to who this geezer is.
For me part, all I know about ++Welby is that he can't wear a collar properly and that he is apparently owned by the Alpha movement (their words, not mine: "our man, Justin Welby"). As a sacramental and liturgical Christian, perhaps that ought to be setting me teeth on edge. However, I also believe God is behind all of this, so I am at peace and instead find find myself wondering what sort of shower he is assuming the leadership of from his new abode in Lambeth Towers.
The Church of England is, I think, at an important point in its own story. That isn't because of the many issues that nip at its/our gaitered ankles. It isn't because we are so broad that we are like a flimsy balsa wood aircraft - apt to collapse under the weight at any moment. It isn't because no two Anglicans are alike or because the deistic view of the Other is much mitigated by what church you go to (which is to say that for some, the Spirit is to be adored, other Jesus Christ, and others the Father - and rarely in combination if I am honest). What will determine the future of our beloved Church of England, now led by a man whose collar doesn't fit, is how we learn to disagree.
The shenanigans of the last few months tells me that the carcinogen in our cells is self-created. In the hands of bloggers and tweeters, article writers and pulpit be-moaners a church is being gentle dissected into unhappy cohorts of the mutually self-supportive. Maybe it was always the case - but it is clear that now the self-destructive appetites of English Anglicans is made manifest to all eyes. Archbishop Justin will probably lead me into my fifties - and if he does one thing, I will age peacefully. If he can teach his little lambs some of that grace that seems lacking these days, he will have spent his decade well. If I or others can stand across a room in a decade and say, "I know you are different to me, but let's exchange the kiss of peace because I love you anyway", then we will be home and dry.
In very simple terms, Archbishop: teach how to get along again. And may God be with you every step of the way. Amen.