Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lambeth Palace farewell to Archbishop Rowan

To Lambeth Palace on Weds for a lovely "farewell" Eucharist with Archbishop Rowan.  Despite the deplorable events of Synod he was in amazing form, and preached a wonderful sermon on Luke 19: 11-27, the Parable of the Ten Minas.

This is a variant on the "Parable of the Talents" in Matthew but instead of three servants each given a Talent (roughly a million dollars) there are ten servants each given a Mina (roughly ten thousand pounds - there were 60 Mina in a Talent, and 100 Denarii in a Mina, and a Denarius was a day's wage) although only three of them are referred to and the wording of that bit is the same as the Talents parable. But the additional detail is that the "master" is "A man of noble birth [who] went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return..But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We don’t want this man to be our king.'"  Then after he has taken one mina away from a lazy servant and given it to the one who has ten minas he says "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them – bring them here and kill them in front of me."

Rowan said that Jesus loved shocking people. This master is clearly modelled on Archelaus the son of Herod whose cruelty was notorious. Jesus has already likened God to an unjust judge and an incompetent farmer, now he might as well be saying "God is a bit like Saddam Hussein" but the real point is that God's gifts are always gifts of generosity from His generous love, because ultimately all that God has is His own nature.  So we have to be generous with the gifts that God has given to us because if we try to imprison them and bury them in the ground we are denying their nature and his.

He added that one of the benefits of the somewhat odd practice in the Western Church of giving communion in the form of a round wafer (rather than broken bread) is that it looks a bit like a coin so it can remind us that we are receiving a gift from God.  But as so often happens in the spiritual realm, things are upside down, and when it seems to us that we are holding God, God is holding us.

Reception afterwards with a moving presentation to ABp Rowan and his wife Jane. I do hope we see them when they are in Cambridge. A pity of course he didn't become Master of Trinity - I have heard, whether this is true or not I don't know -  that the science Fellows voted for him but the Arts ones didn't.

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