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Memorial Worship at Momoyama Gakuin University, Japan

The Archbishop at the Momoyama Gakuin service

Friday 25th September 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spoke at an open air memorial worship to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Momoyama Gakuin (St Andrews) University, and the 125th anniversary for Momoyama Gakuin, in the presence of University faculties and students.

The full text of the sermon is below:

A good school or a good university has these signs about it, amongst others: it is a place where teachers do not simply transfer information from inside their heads to inside somebody else's head. Instead, it is a place where a teacher stirs up the desire to understand. Sometimes a student will say to a teacher 'my desire to understand is such that I must disagree with you', and a good teacher is glad of that. That is when a teacher knows that a student desires the truth, not just to be loyal to a person, but to be loyal to the truth. And that desire for the truth is something which never comes to an end, but which is always renewed in the life of a good student. A good student is not one who says 'Now I have studied and I can get on with my life', but one who says 'Now I have learned how to grow'.

And so in the reading from the bible which we heard a few minutes ago, we see the Christian foundations for this vision. St Paul begins by complaining that the Christians of Corinth will not grow, they do not want to grow up. They want to be loyal only to this teacher or to that teacher, but they do not want to be loyal to the truth which is in Jesus Christ. St Paul is a good teacher because he says 'I do not want you to be loyal to me; I want you to be loyal to the truth that is in Jesus Christ'. So he wants his students to grow up, not to remain children. He wants them to be free. And that is how the two words which I know are important in the vision of Momoyama Gaukin come to relate to these words from the bible: the words 'liberty' and 'love'.

The Christian teacher wants human beings to become free, the Christian teacher wants human beings to desire truth. And so, a Christian school, or a Christian university must always be a place of liberty and of love. It is where students learn that they have before them, a long journey without ending, into the truth. And for the Christian believer there is the confidence that truth finally has the face of Jesus Christ. So that the journey of learning is not about acquiring facts, but about coming into a relationship. It is a relationship of love, desire for the truth, because the truth itself is seen to be the same as love. So today we give thanks for the journey into love and freedom that the history of this university represents. And we pray for God's blessing on the journey that lies ahead. We pray that the journey of each student towards the truth may also be a journey in liberty and in love.

In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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