Easter Hope in a Good Friday World from Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, has written an inspiring ecumenical Easter letter to the heads of other Churches and Christian world communions.  In the letter he outlines some of the present-day tragedies occurring around the world, but urges that “The victory is won: however terrible the conflict in the present moment, the truth of God is not in danger of defeat.”

God has, from all eternity, loved us: and, when we realize that fact, nothing else can finally shape our minds and hearts. We are anchored in that love: it does not protect us from harm, or from hard decisions, or from emotional turmoil and profound grief, or anger at the pain of the world. It simply assures us that there is finally no contest between God’s love and the forces of disintegration in the world and in the human spirit. When this unqualified love is denied and abused, even when it is pushed away with the utmost arbitrary violence, it proves itself indestructible. The Crucified is raised to life.

The letter offers a wonderful summation of Easter hope in a Good Friday world.  The full text of the Letter “The Victory is Won” can be found here.

Journey From Palm Sunday to Easter with Rowan Williams

This week the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, will give a series of Holy Week Lectures entitled ‘The beginning of the Gospel’ over three consecutive evenings at  Canterbury Cathedral.   The lectures will be available at the official site of the Archbishop here.

History & Memory
Monday 29 March

Unveiling Secrets
Tuesday 30 March

A Lifelong Passion
Wednesday 31 March

Tip of the biretta to Norris Battin or this info.

Rowan Williams on the “Uniqueness and Finality” of Christ

Archbishop Rowan Williams recently gave a brilliant address at Guildford Cathedral titled The Finality of Christ in a Pluralist World. The Archbishop spoke of defending the uniqueness and finality of Christ, and encountering the truth about God and humanity from a moral, political and philosophical perspective.

The address highlighted the importance of approaching inter faith dialogue with confidence, but also of learning something new:

“If our convictions lead us to believe there is no hope for those outside our own faith or with no faith…” there is a danger of “treating others as if they know nothing, and we have nothing to learn”. “Belief in the uniqueness and finality of Christ allows us a generous desire to share and a humble desire to learn”.

Jumping to the conclusion of the address, the Archbishop states:

“Belief in the uniqueness and finality of Jesus Christ – for all the assaults made upon it in the modern age – remains for the Christian a way of speaking about hope for the entire human family. And because it’s that, we are bound to say something about it. We are very rightly suspicious of proselytism, of manipulative, bullying, insensitive approaches to people of other faith which treat them as if they knew nothing, as if we had nothing to learn and as if the tradition of their reflection and imagination were of no interest to us or God. God save us from that kind of approach. But God save us also from the nervousness about our own conviction which doesn’t allow us to say that we speak about Jesus because we believe he matters. We believe he matters because we believe that in him human beings find their peace. Their destinies converge and their dignities are fully honored. And all the work that we as Christians want to do for the sake of convergent human destiny and fullness of human dignity has its root in that conviction that there is no boundary around Jesus – that what he is and does and says and suffers is in principle liberatingly relevant to every human being; past, present and future.”

The full transcript of the address can be viewed here:  The audio link for the address is


Archbishop Rowan Williams at the Beginning of Lent

In this video, also available here, Rowan Williams talks of Lent as providing an opportunity to “sweep and clean the room of our own minds and hearts so that the new life really may have room to come in and take over and transform us at Easter.”  The Archbishop says:

“It’s not about feeling gloomy for forty days; it’s not about making yourself miserable for forty days; it’s not even about giving things up for forty days. Lent is springtime. It’s preparing for that great climax of springtime which is Easter – new life bursting through death.”

Remarks from Rowan Williams Upon Receiving the Campion Award

From America Magazine:

On January 25 Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, accepted the 2009 Campion Award from the editors of America.  In his remarks upon accepting award, he reflected on the idea of a “martyrial ecumenism,” mused on the surprising links between Shakespeare and St. Edmund Campion and emphasized the central place of forgiveness in all relationships.

Drew Christiansen, S.J, the editor in chief of America, introduced the archbishop, and literary editor Patricia A. Kossmann presented Williams with the award. The Campion award is given on a regular basis to a notable Christian person of letters. It is named after St. Edmund Campion, S.J., an English writer and martyr who is honored in both the Anglican and Catholic traditions.

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A tip of the Biretta to Eleanor Braun for pointing me to this.

And thanks to Burgess Laird for the link to this New York Times report on the Trinity Wall Street Conference where Rowan Williams spoke on the subject of theology and economics.

Making God Credible

6a00d83451da9669e201287588412b970c-320wiIn a sermon given at All Saints Margaret Street on November 1, Archbishop Rowan Williams reminded his listeners that God does not make himself credible by argument, but by the lives and deaths of faithful people who engage their human journey with courage and hope.

Speaking about our “contemporary anxieties” in the Anglican Communion, Rowan stated:

We need to tell the stories of the Saints to remind ourselves what is possible and within any Christian family. We need to tell the stories of those who have made God credible to us. And within our Anglican family we need to go on telling a few stories about those who have shown us that it is possible to lead lives of Catholic holiness even in the Communion of the See of Canterbury! We need to be reminded of what we have to be grateful for in the lives of those who within our communion and fellowship have lived out God’s presence and made him credible here in this fellowship with these people. God knows what the future holds for any of us for any of our ecclesiastical institutions, but we can at least begin with what we can be sure of; that God has graced us with the lives of Saints; that God has been credible in this fellowship with these people. This church with its very particular place in the history of the Church of England is one small but significant facet of that great mystery and that great gift. And at times when the future seems more than usually chaotic and uncertain, it doesn’t hurt simply to give thanks.

Read the entire sermon here.

It is a brilliant sermon and one that reminds us how to transcend the polarizations of our time.

Rowan Williams Reflects on Easter

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, reflects on the celebration of Easter:

“At Easter we celebrate just not the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, as if that were an interesting fact that happened many centuries ago.  We celebrate the fact that in words from the Bible, because he is alive, we are alive.  We know that we are held in God’s hands.  That our lives are held firmly and lovingly forever by the mercy of God.  We know we have a future in his love and that nothing can take that away.”

Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘Churches must not be too busy.’

egyptIn his sermon at St. Mark’s pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt, where he is chairing the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury raised the issue of busyness in congregations today.  Is prayer a substitute for activity, or an activity for which there is no substitute?  From the sermon:

Many years ago I lived in a town where there was a very active church indeed. Outside this church was an enormous noticeboard. It must have been about 6 ft sq. It seemed every moment of the week was taken up by activity. But I’ve no doubt indeed it was a very good church and very careful and loving parish. And yet that noticeboard used to worry me and it still does. It seems to me it speaks of an idea of the church which supposes that the church is about human beings doing things. When you looked at that church you would have thought, what a lot of things they do there. But I’m still wondering if anyone ever asked, does God do things here? It seemed to be just a slight risk that there was hardly any room in the week for God to find his way in among all these activities.

(Ruth Gledhill has transcribed the sermon here).

HT to my brother Rob for this story.

Concluding Prayers at the Compass Rose


The Annual Meeting of the Compass Rose Society ended with a liturgy of intercessory prayers for the work and witness of Canterbury Cathedral, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and for the provinces and churches of the Communion around the world.

We gathered with the Archbishop around the Compass Rose—the symbol of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Canterbury Compass Rose was placed on the floor of the nave and dedicated by Archbishop Robert Runcie at the closing service of the 1998 Lambeth Conference.