Lambeth Conference support staff, led here by Professor Gerald West of the University of Kwazulu-Natal, are participating in the same bible study that marks the beginning of every day's agenda. The series, focusing on the "I Am" statements of John's gospel, has proven to be a prayer-filled and insightful experience for all of us in the small group in which I participate.
Each of the encounters with Jesus described in these passages (listed further down on right-hand side of this page) pose, in different guise, two of the most basic questions of faith--that is, who is Jesus, and who are we in relationship to Jesus?
And just as significantly, these passages have led us quite naturally and inevitably to a much deeper place of encounter, providing both the framework and the context in which we have addressed many of the troubling issues of our Communion that are at the heart of this conference. Those conversations (involving in my group English, American, Mexican, Australian, Caribbean, and South American voices) have been characterized by candor, forthrightness, thoughtfulness, attentiveness, honesty and compassion.
When we first assembled well over a week ago, Rowan Williams stated that he did not expect that in two weeks time we would find a solution to all of our problems. That is realistic. He went on to say, however, that it was his hope that we would "find the trust that will give us all the energy to change in the way that God intends."
That too, I would hope, is the point of encountering the gospel.
To the degree that I can, I'll say more in the days ahead about some of the difficult and challenging experiences that I have had in the larger scope of the conference's agenda and activities. For now you should know that, at least at the beginning of the day, my small group bible study is actually getting to the point.