Anglican head tells NZ service that Church must beat its fears

In a sermon given in Auckland, the spiritual head of the Anglican communion has challenged the Church to overcome its fears.

Preaching at a packed Holy Sepulchre Church in Newton, Archbishop Justin Welby said the Church has “so often lived in fear and often does so now”.

“Fear causes our quarrels, whether it is sexuality or the future of the Church, fear makes us inward looking and, frankly, pathetic,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said.

Fear breaks down relationships within the Church and around the world and it blocks reconciliation, he said, adding that politics often, but not always, works through fear.

He said we need to pray for our politicians.

Archbishop Welby cited conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Ukraine and Israel/Palestine as propelling the world towards fear, which leads to self-protection and worsening actions.

But for the Christian, “there is only one reason for courage, for hope, for love, and that is God, the God of cross and resurrection”.

“And that one reason overwhelms every other reason for fear,” he stated.

Therefore the Christian is called to action.

“Action must be wise, because it has foreseen the consequences, and it must be courageous, or it will fail,” Archbishop Welby said.

“We find evil in people, in groups like ISIL, in economies, and we see fear to be confronted in privileging the local over the global, today over the next generation.”

Archbishop Welby said listening to debate in the UK Parliament on climate change highlighted this intergenerational fear.

“The fear is giving up something now for a generation yet unborn, who, for all we know, might not be very grateful.”

But action must be based on prayer, and Archbishop Welby said his first priority as Archbishop of Canterbury is “to encourage a renewal of prayer and communities of prayer”.

“Because it is in prayer that we come face to face with that figure on the cross, and recognise him as God himself,” he explained.

He said his other priorities are fostering mission and witness, as well as reconciliation in the Anglican communion and he is encouraged by what he has seen so far on all these fronts.

Archbishop Welby’s short visit marked 200 years since the first proclamation of the Christian Gospel in New Zealand.

New Zealand is the 30th out of 37 Anglican provinces he has visited in his current capacity.

Sources

News category: New Zealand.

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