Try hard

By on May 1, 2012

The Five Marks of Mission

  1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  2. To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  3. To respond to human need by loving service
  4. To seek to transform unjust structures of society
  5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation
    and sustain and renew the life of the earth

On a trip to the Anglican Church of Melanesia, I was moved by the manner in which the exchange of “The Peace” was introduced at the eucharist.

Presider: The peace of the Lord be with you
People: And with you.

Presider: We are the Body of Christ
People: By one Spirit we were baptized into one Body.

Presider: Try hard to keep the unity of the Spirit
People: In the bond of peace.

In the life and work to which we are called as the Body of Christ in the world, we are encouraged to “try hard.” That is, to do all in our power, with the help of God, to keep the unity Christ wills for his church, to maintain the bonds of affection that hold us together in the service of the gospel.

To this sacred calling, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has given himself wholeheartedly. In his extensive travels, pastoral letters and prayers for the church, and in his unwavering support for Communion-wide networks that serve the Five Marks of Mission, the Archbishop stands tall. As the focus of unity for our Communion, he has endeavoured to draw us together, to heal our wounds and to strengthen our witness in the world.

He has persevered in upholding the principle that “we meet,” trusting the Holy Spirit to lead and to guide. At the 2008 Lambeth Conference, he spoke of celebrating, deepening and, where need be, restoring communion. In the midst of tensions, he has modelled gracious hospitality in receiving people of many theological perspectives and encouraging dialogue marked by respectful listening. He has encouraged bishops in their calling to be a focal point for unity within their diocese and across the whole church, “uniting its members,” as our own Ordinal says, “in a holy fellowship of truth and love” (BAS, p. 639).

To this ministry, Archbishop Williams brought brilliance of mind and passion of heart. In theses challenging times, we have been blessed to have such a good and wise chief shepherd. We wish him God’s blessings in his return to academia, confident that he will continue to serve the Communion as a doctor and teacher of the faith.

As we give thanks for his ministry, let us pray that after his holy example, we in our several callings will “try hard to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

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