Scheduled to coincide with the centenary of the 1918 Armistice that brought an end to the bloodletting of the hopefully-called-at -the-time, ‘Great War’ – the one to end all wars.It was indeed a solemn Sunday of Remembering as we contemplated together all of the errors and the carnage, the short-sightedness of the terms of both the Armistice (11 11 11) and the Treaty of Versailles (10 January 1920) that, together, ensured that another war would follow not long down the road.
It was, for me, one of those signposts along that way that is never forgotten because it was life altering in some way. The combination of superb music, vocalists and instrumentalists, rivetting lectures (yes!), superb preaching and teaching made for an unforgettable three days. And all on the all-important theme of peace. Susan Sparks was equal parts profound and hilarious with her contributions on Peace, One Joke at a Time.As church, as Christians, we have been poor teachers and preachers of enemy-love. The fifty-year-old words of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, have never as true as they are today. It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence; it is either nonviolence or nonexistence.
I remember reading about the 104th Archbishop of Canter-bury, the Right Rev’d Rowan Williams, during those years when he led the world-wide Anglican Communion. It was a time of rifts and conflict in the global body as it attempted to navigate the waters of sex and gender. Rowans Williams demonstrated remarkable leadership as those waters rose. Out of that office, he continues to travel the world with his message of radical inclusion and peace.
This man is surely the church equivalent of a rock star. For someone who walks with royalty and peers, he is a humble man who mingled with all of us, joined in lunch table conversations, gave out hugs and praise. One-on-one, he was attentive, generous and appreciative, enumerating what parts of my Monday night peacemakers’ storytelling he intended to reflect on and use. Nice.