In 1987, Imbi and I with our 10 month old son visited our good friends, Christopher and Susan in their London home. Years earlier, Christopher had played an active role in my conversion experience at Little T, an Anglican Church in Toronto – he was studying at the University of Toronto at the time. We attended their church the first Sunday we were in town. They met in a school gymnasium as their main building was being repaired. Christopher, a lawyer by day, was the music director of this growing congregation.
The vicar had been a lawyer, as well. He’d practiced law and was a High Court Judge in Uganda – where he’d been beaten and tortured for his faith. We only spent a brief amount of time with them, but he and his wife were warm, inviting people – and there was much humour in their home.
Over the years, Imbi and I have casually followed the career of this gifted man.
Last week, Dr. John Sentamu was installed as the Archbishop of York – the first African primate in Britain. Our friends, Christopher and Susan were in attendance. His sermon echoed with his strong convictions.
The scandal of the church is that the Christ-event is no longer life-changing, it has become life-enhancing. We’ve lost the joy and power that makes real disciples, and we’ve become consumers of religion and not disciples of Jesus Christ. The call to corporate discipleship is a call to God’s promised glory. For Christ did for us that which we couldn’t do for ourselves.
He quoted from the late David Watson, an Anglican pastor who had a profound impact on my life:
“Christians in the West, have largely neglected what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The vast majority of Western Christians are church-members, pew-fillers, hymn-singers, sermon-tasters, Bible-readers, even born-again believers or Spirit-filled Charismatics – but aren’t true disciples of Jesus Christ.
If we were willing to learn the meaning of real discipleship and actually to become disciples, the Church in the West would be transformed, and the resultant impact on society would be staggering.”
These are trying times in the Anglican Communion – as they are in the wider Church. But Dr Sentamu’s words should give us hope.
God is working in the world today quite beyond the limits of our budgets, structures and expectation. His gospel, lived out in corporate-discipleship, has the power to transform our individual and corporate lives, our families, our communities and our nations. It has the power to break beyond our timidity and insufficiency. The voice of God is active today as it has been down the centuries – provoking us to move, change, and recognise who we are and what – by God’s help – we can become.