Archbishop's sermon to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nakuru Diocese, Kenya
Sunday 19th June 2011In a sermon for the Celebration Eucharist for the 50th Anniversary of Nakuru Diocese, Kenya, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams urged Christians not to lose their fearlessness, as it is courage that gives us strength to grow in our faith.
After a procession through the town with all the clergy from the diocese, Dr Williams preached to a congregation of over 2000 about the severe threats that many Christians face all over the world, while trying to live out their faith:
'So the most important thing about growing up is growing into fearlessness – being brave enough to take no notice when our faith makes others mock us or attack us. Part of that is also about supporting others whose faith is under attack. And it is one of the great gifts and privileges of belonging in a worldwide church that we are able to know of the sufferings of other Christians in our Anglican family and pray and help as best we can. I am always grateful for the messages that arrive almost every day at Lambeth Palace to tell me about the courage of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and Zimbabwe and Pakistan and Egypt and Sudan. I thank God that he has given me really grown-up brothers and sisters who show this fearlessness in the face of terrible danger.'
Taking up the theme which the Anglican Church in Kenya had chosen – growing together in Christ - the Archbishop referred back to the Letter to the Hebrews in speaking about the way in which Christians can grow in their faith:
'If we read on in this Letter to the Hebrews, we find there some very specific, very clear guidelines about moving on and growing up as believers. And we find also the warning that living in this way will not always make us popular. If we seek to make friends out of strangers, perhaps some people will attack us for being disloyal to our own folk. If we try to live honourable lives in marriage, perhaps some others will make fun of us or be angry with us for not following the easy ways of self-indulgence. If we stand out against corruption and money-grabbing or land-grabbing, we may offend powerful people. But in all this, God is with us. He demands that, as grown-up Christians, we should be honest about the problems of our society and seek to show a better way.'
In speaking about the Anglican Church in Kenya making a public stand against corruption, Dr Williams praised its leadership and urged Christians to listen and support them:
'To be a grown-up Christian is to be committed to the way of justice and generosity. I am inspired by the way so many of your leaders, including your Archbishop, have gone on witnessing to this call, bravely challenging greed and divisiveness and working so hard to keep the church as a fellowship where people of all languages and backgrounds can meet as equals and to strengthen the church as a force for peace and reconciliation in the community . But these things are too important to be left only to leaders. Again, the Letter to the Hebrews tells us to support and follow our leaders (13.7, 17) and not to grieve them. And it seems to me that the way to grieve our leaders is to leave them to face criticism and attack alone at times of trouble and to ignore them when they try to bring the church closer to the call and the demands of Jesus Christ – those demands for welcome, loving lives, free from greed and fear and faithful in every way.'
Finally, the Archbishop urged for prayer so that the Church can help unite the country and show the way to become more like Christ:
'This diocese is celebrating fifty years of Christian witness and I am quite sure that God has raised up many leaders who have worked to help his people grow in these ways. And now, this is a time of great challenge and significance for this whole country. People need so urgently to see a vision that will unite them, they need to see a vision of trust and generosity between strangers and they need to see that when we are honest about our failings and turn our backs on greed and dishonesty we become more free, more like Christ, more at one with each other. So we must pray that in the next fifty years, the diocese will become even more of a school for growing up in faith, a true sign of hope for the whole country.'
Click download on the right to listen to the Archbishop's sermon [20Mb].