justin’s house

9 11 2012

It is a place in chaos, different factions yelling out at will, seemingly uncontrollable energy for shouting out and not being heard. Not to mention the camp robot, the woman on a unicycle and the hairy monster. Just another day in Lambeth Palace? Sorry, wrong Justin’s House. 

I am sure there are similarities between being the central character in the drama of CBeebies comedic chaos that is Justin’s House and being the central character in the drama that is Lambeth Palace, new home of Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. For example, what appears to be in chaos is actually pretty well coordinated; what happens behind the scenes is far more important than what happens in front of the cameras; and actually Justin wouldn’t exist without his supporting cast.  Not to mention the hairy monster. Or is he the one that’s just retired? 

Being the Archbishop of Canterbury is not a task I would wish upon anybody. Being a figurehead of an organisation is never easy, but especially one as diverse and misunderstood as the Church of England. To outsiders, he is the leader of the church, a bit like the Pope for the English. He is not. What he says is taken to be the view of the Church of England. It is not. The media will portray Justin Welby as inheriting a chaotic and divided, eternally dwindling and hopeless institution. It is not. Ok, not all of it. 

It is easy to be cynical and see the flaws in any candidate. I was quick to be cynical about his Eton schooling and the obsession with upper-class education at the top-levels of our church. But, but. He has a grounded faith born out of experience of privilege and of tragedy; he learnt the trade by getting his hands dirty as we all do and he got there by sacrificing a 6-figure salary as he answered his calling. It’s rubbish to be so quick to judge like me.   

As Lambeth Palace becomes Justin’s House, as he begins to grapple with being the ‘conscience of the nation’; as he finds ways to challenge businesses and governments; as he visits churches large and small; as he meets global leaders and local mums; as he carefully chooses words that will be endlessly misquoted, turned into soundbites, twisted to fit the media’s agenda; as he goes home to be a husband, a dad and a friend; and as he seeks to live out his life as a follower of Jesus, we wish him well.

But we do more than that. We stand together as representatives of a diverse, ragtag bunch of people, divided because our God is not one of oppression who forces us to unilateral agreement; and united by our common faith in Jesus Christ. Much like the church always has been. See the New Testament.

There is rarely peace in Justin’s House. May there be peace in his. 

For more on the appointment of Justin Welby, click here and scroll down to “Interviews with Fraser and Kuhrt”, and this video with Stephen Kuhrt in the Daily Telegraph. For the official press release see the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.




4 responses

9 11 2012

Brilliant post, as always, Kevin! I’m excited by Welby’s appointment, but trying to temper that excitement justin-case!

11 11 2012

We expect so much of people these days and are so critical when they show they are human. It seems the only people we are quick to forgive are ourselves. We’ve seen, for instance in the American presidency, what happens when a new leader is appointed with excitement and then the establishment rallies against him.

I am really excited that God has appointed somebody from a different mould from his predecessors. Not that they were bad or wrong, some did brilliantly, but because that is often the way God does things. I don’t think the disciples were of the same mould as the religious leaders of the day.

What Justin needs now, as well as the Holy Spirit in great measure is support, understanding and encouragement from all Christians. That in itself would be a miracle but were it to happen then he could really do great things for God. He will make mistakes, he is human, but what he needs is not to be pilloried for them but to be supported and helped and to have all the good that he does acknowledged and encouraged.

12 11 2012

It’s so easy to judge and we’re so GOOD at it!

I think Justin sounds like a real character and await his perspective on happenings with interest!
Reckon he’ll do a better job than most of us.
As your article points out, we COULD look at it from the stance that he has inherited a poisoned chalice… On the other hand, we could see that he has been courageous enough to put himself in the position whereby he has been given the power to use wisdom to heal fractures and divisions.

I hope that we ‘the church’ can show grace as we scrutinise his every move over the coming months.

13 11 2012

Dsaniel accepted a poisened chalice and look where it got him!

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