Actually, it is both harder and easier for us.
because we are not really an organisation at all, but the community of
Jesus Christ - women and men who know him and follow him - with a
vocation to give away everything we have.
But, easier, because we
have the promise and assurance that God is with us. We have the gift
and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We know that in Christ all things are
possible. Therefore, despite all the challenges, despite the tiredness
and difficulty of it all, we are not downhearted. Therefore, we are
sustained by hope.
And, to bolster that hope, we have also
recently received a substantial grant - £850,000 - from the Church of
England’s Strategic Capacity Fund to help us scope and develop our plans
for transformed growth as we develop plans following our recent
consultation with all the deaneries. This is a big encouragement. Among
others, I want to particularly thank Peter Warry, our Diocesan
Secretary, Ian McIntosh our Director of Mission and Ministry, and Sam
Rushton who has been seconded from her role as Archdeacon of York to
help make the plans that have been agreed by Archbishop’s Council and
this Synod a reality. I also want to thank this Synod itself for its
faithfulness and vision.
The next few years are not going to be easy. But I think, under God, we are beginning to see a way forward.
today I am saying we are called to live Christ’s story as we are about
to begin our journey through Holy Week, the greatest and most important
week of the Christian year. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to
remember that to live the story of Christ is to live the story of one
who was misunderstood and rejected; it is to live the story of one who
washed his disciples’ feet; of one who suffered on the cross and says to
those who follow him that they must carry a cross too.
a cost to discipleship. Following Jesus - living his story - means
being called to new things and to a life of generosity and sacrifice.
will continue to do all that I can to help the York diocese move
forward into a transformed and flourishing future. But I can't pretend
to you that there aren't challenges ahead and we must not shirk from
them. One of them appears briefly on our agenda today, that is the issue
of racial justice.
The letter to the Ephesians speaks about the
death of Christ as breaking down barriers of separation and of making
peace. Again and again, the Apostle Paul describes the new humanity we
have in Christ as being something which draws us together, which removes
the obstacles of division, which prevents us from separating from our
I am delighted to be commissioning our Racial Justice
team and Racial Justice Champions today. Their work will be vital to
help us better reflect the life we see in Christ, and help us be a more
diverse church, and be able to reach out to all peoples and all
communities. I am very grateful for those who have offered themselves in
this ministry. People giving their time generously and sacrificially
because the gospel of Jesus Christ matters.
Finally, we meet and
say these things, and we celebrate Holy Week and Easter, against the
backdrop of a world where there is even greater instability and
uncertainty. Russia’s terrible invasion of Ukraine has already changed
Europe and changed the world, showing us that peace is something we
should never have taken for granted.
We need to welcome refugees
(and I'm glad for the work on that that's begun in the diocese), give
aid to the beleaguered and suffering people of Ukraine, use every
diplomatic channel available to bring an end to the fighting, and invest
again in those international bodies that are one of the ways on Earth
that we demonstrate the one humanity that we have in Christ. Moreover,
this new refugee crisis in Europe should remind us of the other terrible
conflicts and refugee crises in Europe and across the world, conflicts
and displacement of people that are too easily ignored. Last week I was
with Primates from across the Anglican Communion and heard at first-hand
what this is like in some of the countries where they serve. As
Christians, we must take a lead in making peace across all of the world.
We must serve one another. And that was before I also heard from them
about the devastating effects of climate change, of persecution in some
places, and of poverty.
Tomorrow, we will wave our branches and
sing Hosanna. Next Sunday we will reaffirm the promises of our baptism
and sing Alleluia. Please, please, please, can we make sure that on the
days in between, we gather at the cross, for on the cross we see the
length and depth of God’s love for us in Christ, the cost of that love,
and God’s passionate commitment to the world he loves.
doing, not only will the Alleluias we sing have more meaning, but we
will ourselves find again the resolve we need to rebuild God’s church
and – most of all – to remember why we’re doing it. Not for our own
survival. Not to balance the books. Not so that we can appear to be
successful. We are doing this so that we are better able to live and
share God’s peace in the world. That peace which flows from the broken
heart of Jesus on the cross - this is what the Church is for. This is
why we live Christ’s story.