Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!
The Paschal acclamation should ring along with the bells of Easter during this Eastertide. We have further news to celebrate as GAFCON IV ends with the Kigali Commitment – a statement issued by one of the largest (if not the largest) gatherings of Anglicans from across the globe. The commitment is clear and succinct: Anglicans must be disciples of Jesus Christ and we find His teachings and are bound by His Spirit-inspired Word – the Holy Scriptures.
But now the work begins.
The response from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office demonstrates precisely why we are called to unite under the Word of God. The last sentence from Canterbury’s statement is clear. Clear as mud: “it is also how the world will know that Jesus Christ is sent from the Father who calls us to love one another, even as we disagree.”
The Scriptures wisely remind us, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” and our own Lord notes “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” No sir, “we ought to obey God rather than men.” Should the Archbishop of Canterbury desire true unity, it must be a unity based upon “one body and one Spirit […] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” and not a false unity ignoring faithfully following the Word of God. As the Kigali Commitment puts it, “The Bible is God’s Word written, breathed out by God as it was written by his faithful messengers (2 Timothy 3:16). It carries God’s own authority, is its own interpreter, and it does not need to be supplemented, nor can it ever be overturned by human wisdom.” The unity that our Lord Jesus invites us into involves faithfully walking in His Word, which will always separate us from the world. As our Lord Jesus prayed in John 17:14, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”
The work to which every professing Christian is called begins today. GAFCON IV is over, now let us put our hand on the plow and not look back. As Archbishop Foley noted, “Some of us have practices in our provinces, in our ministries, and in our lives which are not of God. We need to repent.” As the Kigali Commitment states, “Repentance defines and shapes the Christian life and the life of the church. Each day at the Conference, in response to God’s Word in Colossians, we were led in a time of repentance.” Let us begin that repentance today and turn back towards our Lord, our Master, our Good Shepherd. Let us walk forth in the light and share the light of Christ’s love on those who are before us: starting with our parish, our neighbors, and our homes.
At an international level, GAFCON IV issued a vision and a call to reform and reset the Anglican Communion alongside the Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches. Lord willing, this reform and reset will enable Anglicans to live up to the three marks of the Church as outlined in the Book of Homilies, Homily on Whitsunday: “Pure and sound doctrine, the Sacraments ministered according to Christ’s holy institution, and the right use of Ecclesiastical discipline.” However, the Kigali Commitment notes it all begins at home. GAFCON IV calls upon those of us who were not delegates to join in a “decade of discipleship, evangelism and mission” that encompasses “raising up the next generation of leaders in Gafcon through Bible-based theological education that will equip them to be Christ-centred and servant-hearted” and prioritizing “youth and children’s ministry that instructs them in the Word of the Lord, disciples them to maturity in Christ and equips them for a lifetime of Christian service.”
This work does not start at the youth group but within the home. The local parish needs to foster, help, and equip our families by catechizing them in the faith once delivered. The world is after our families and Satan continues prowling about like a roaring lion. However, Christ is Risen! Therefore, let us keep the feast by teaching our youth how to walk in the light, especially as it counters the darkness in the world. We must invest in our young adults so they can see how disciples of Christ are called to live, love, and serve one another. Lay leaders, rise up, and help your rector to mentor (disciple) the flock of God and to resist the temptation to yield an inch to the wolves. Surround your youth volunteers or minister with support in the difficult role of raising and protecting our kids from the onslaught of the evil one. Rectors, consider printing the catechism within your bulletins or having the congregation stand and publicly recite it as part of worship. We cannot stress enough that Christian education and discipleship does not end at adulthood but continues until we passover and are glorified in the great resurrection at Christ’s return.
Parents, let us forget our failings of yesterday and teach our children to pray. Spouses, be examples of praying and reading Scripture aloud together. Grandparents, model the Christian life and be prayerful warriors of God like St. Monica, who long-awaited the repentance and conversion of St. Augustine. Church members, look at your fellow parishioners not as anonymous neighbors but as the family you were grafted into by the grace of God the Father through Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our work is cut out for us, and we need each other. Therefore, let us work to live together as disciples of Jesus and not as occasional acquaintances we see one hour a week. Modeling servanthood starts with ourselves. Simply showing up on Sunday is not enough. It’s a start, but discipleship continues when Monday’s morning alarm hits you. We are in a marathon, or a race as St. Paul puts it, and we need to pace ourselves. We need the grace of the Holy Spirit and new morning mercies every day of the week to truly be Christ’s disciples and to make disciples starting with the ones within our household.
May we take up the challenge of the Kigali Commitment and make it our own by not only diving daily into the Holy Scriptures but also living the prayer book life. Turn to the back of your prayer books and study the teaching of the Church the Apostles received. Teach your household the depths and riches of the Creeds, the catechism, the Articles of Religion, and above all else search the Scriptures. Embrace the hardship of praying regularly, constantly, and Lord-willing without ceasing. When we serve the Lord in daily prayer, we cannot remain who we once were. And the transformation that comes from the renewing of our minds is contagious. The Gospel is good news after all! Marinate in the discipline of daily prayer, singing Psalms, and yes, fasting, so our feasting will be all the more delightful. When your household sees you committed to living like a disciple, they will see what Christian service, sacrifice, and selflessness are about. It’s about faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
We each have our gifts. They vary and they differ, but they are gifts of the Spirit. May we truly “offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee” as Christ’s servants. The gift of the breath of life we have is wasted until we offer it back up to our Redeemer for His service.
Carrying your cross is the calling for disciples of Jesus. It is not easy but a task to forsake the post-modern world and live the prayer book life. But the alternative is the way of death. And the burden is so much lighter when we take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. The revival I pray for isn’t in Asbury University, Kentucky, but is within the hearts, minds, bodies, and souls of Christian families throughout the Anglican Communion. The Kingdom of God is among us, may we live like it each day within our homes and communities.
Let us prayerfully consider the final words of the Kigali Commitment and then begin the work ahead by reading the Scriptures, living as disciples under Christ’s easy yoke, and shining Christ’s light through the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us to make disciples starting in our homes, our neighborhoods, our parish, and unto the ends of the earth:
“‘To whom shall we go?’ We go to Christ who alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68) and then we go with Christ to the whole world. Amen.”