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Spiritual progress by the 2nd Anniversary of September 11th

The Ultimate Overview?
How well are we doing, in terms of the Christian belief that it is God's plan to reconcile ALL to himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Are we on track?

Many may say the human race has not progressed far.  In the last century, discrimination attained new depths in the Holocaust, yet the post-Nuremberg vision resulted in:
    1948   UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    1950   European Charter of Human Rights
    1998   European Union Human Rights Act

In the post-war process of decolonisation, too, states newly independent of the British Empire were given written constitutions containing bills of fundamental rights modeled on the European Charter.  Canada, New Zealand and South Africa created their own charters of fundamental rights and freedoms.  In October 2000, the Human Rights Act came into force in the UK.

Have these steps forward been overshadowed by the dramatic images of September 11th, 2001 and its fall-out?  The perpetrators seem to challenge this progress and certainly heighten the need for reconciliation.

One example of Progress
Speaking from my own background of searching for the truth through the window of Anglicanism, there are spiritual signs of progress in reconciliation, in particular in the Enthronement service of the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams earlier this year.

The choice of readers and other speakers (the President of Churches Together in England, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Great Britain) as well as the congregation reflected an ecumenical and inclusive theme in regard to gender, race and tradition within the Christian faith. This was reinforced by an eclectic choice of music, including English, Welsh, African and Urdu, with their sum total being greater than the parts.

The new Archbishop's sermon developed the theme in the Gospel Reading (Matthew 11:25-30). Its language and content reminded us that it is the ‘vulnerable and excluded’ who are more often open to God than the intelligent, and we need to learn from them. “It is the hungry who can smell daily bread a mile away. There are those who know everything about bread except that you need to eat it.”

Rowan Williams recalled a journey to an Eastern Orthodox Monastery 12 years ago, when a curtain was pulled away to reveal a plain altar with a simple icon of Christ. A deep insight followed.  “At the centre of our differences, our conflict, confusion, disagreement and, anxieties, Christ is simply there.”

Are these not signs of spiritual progress, a step towards God's plan to reconcile all to himself?

Yours in Christ

John Raymond (retired senior industrialist and lay worker in Wellingborough, UK)
[more from John on this theme soon]

Connected Community Learning courses start 30.9.03.  Aiming to help equip God's people for discipleship, ministry and reconciliation.

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