To mention the name of Rowan Williams in some parts of the Anglican Family in January 2008 is to raise raw emotions. And in conservative circles these emotions give rise usually to deeply critical comments, aimed at his perceived failure to uphold orthodox doctrine and morals,and his apparent readiness to give way to the sinister pressures from The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.
If we believe in the sovereignty of God both in general providence and in the superintendence of the Church on earth, then we must believe also that Rowan is seated in the See of Canterbury at this time by God’s appointment and pleasure. To say this is, of course, not to say that everything that Rowan says and does is pleasing unto God, or that the way he has gone about arranging the Lambeth Conference for July 2008, and issuing invitations, have been wise. But it is to say that there is every reason to hope that God is ready to bless him abundantly at this time.
Each of us may have an opinion as to what Rowan could have done better in his dealings with the global Anglican Family and with specific provinces in particular. I may think that he ought not to have invited to Lambeth 08 those bishops who consecrated Gene Robinson in New Hampshire in the U.S.A. in 2002. You may think that he ought to have called a Primates Meeting for January or February 2008, as some Primates wanted, to pave the way for a better Lambeth Conference in July 08. And yet others will and actually do think other things.
Let us accept that what is done is done and we cannot change the past.
The most productive thing that those of us, who are concerned for the Anglican Family worldwide, and for seeking reform and renewal in the global Communion of Churches, can do at this moment is outstandingly simple and yet profound: It is to pray for Rowan with intensity and fervor and most specifically in the Name of the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of his sheep. That is, we should daily address the Father almighty, the Father of the Lord Jesus, in the Name of Jesus, the only Mediator between God and man, on behalf of Rowan as he faces the increasing crisis within the Anglican Family.
Telling people what precisely to pray is not always wise and so I merely offer certain themes as intention for filling out or modification and to these others can be added:
• that as a godly and learned man and minister, he will be inspired to spend more time alone with the Lord our God, in the Spirit, meditating and contemplating on what he has learned from the written Word about the Word eternal.
• That he will be given the physical, moral and spiritual strength to perform the duties of his high office in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
• That he will find joy in his family and, in turn, it will always support and enable him.
• That his advisors will be impelled by the Holy Spirit to offer advice that is glorifying to God and not merely politically correct or expedient.
• That he will have a sense of which Primates he needs to speak to by phone, and in person, so as to ensure his rightness of relation to them and to ask for their full commitment to the renewal of the Communion of Churches.
• That he will be given wisdom and courage to know how to relate to the North American Bishops about whose orthodoxy and morality, many other Bishops have serious questions.
• That he will be given wisdom and grace to relate truthfully and winsomely to the Primates of West and West Africa, who are apparently planning on boycotting Lambeth 2008.
• That he will speak and write on sexuality in a way that is honoring to God and to his holy law.
• That he will be prepared in mind and heart for the difficult yet crucial task of presiding over the Lambeth Conference for two weeks and more.
• That he will also be able, as the pressures of the Anglican Communion unceasingly descend upon his shoulders, somehow to have the strength, time and readiness of spirit to attend to his many duties in the Church of England and in ecumenical relations.
And, as noted above, one can add much to this List.
His needs in this period leading up to July 08 and through the Conference into August 08 are so many that one can become weary seeking to itemize them! Thus better to place them before the Lord God one by one in the name of Jesus.
Let each of us daily from this day forward not merely offer a minor petition for Rowan, but let us give him a specific minute or two of concentrated attention within our intercessions to the Father in the Name of the Son and in the Spirit.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Dr Peter Toon firstname.lastname@example.org Jan 4 2007