05 August 2008

After Lambeth: Where do we go from here?

So the Lambeth Conference is over and I am sure I am not alone among Anglicans in wondering, where we go from here.

That question, ‘Where do we go from here?’ reminded me of an anecdote Lesslie Newbigin used to tell about the conference at which the World Council of Churches was constituted. Here is the story as it appeared in a letter to his wife:

‘Karl Barth gave us a tremendous oration on the fundamental theme of the conference. It was real prophecy and compelled everyone, I think, to look beyond our plans and self-importance to the living God. Some people were very annoyed by it, but I more and more feel that it was needed. In the evening at the reception Pierre Maury asked me what I thought of it. I said, “It was magnificent, but where do we go from there?” Just at that moment Barth appeared, so Maury repeated my question to him. He said, “Into the next room of course”, and went! Which was the right answer; I mean that Barth demolishes all one’s plans with his terrific prophetic words, and one is left wondering what to do next; and his answer always is, Just get on with the next plain duty.’ (Lesslie Newbigin, Unfinished Agenda, 110f)

In the face of all the anxieties over the future of the Anglican Communion, ‘Just get on with the next plain duty’ seems like wise advice for us all.

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