Archbishop in Toronto

By Neil Earle

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, spoke at the Preaching Peace Conference in Toronto. Click photo to enlarge.

Last month I was able to attend a Preaching Peace Conference in Toronto, Canada, which featured the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. He spoke eloquently about the power of Language to help reconstruct lost or damaged worlds – thus broadening our horizons and creating a shared landscape where human flourishing can thrive.

Good poets do that as we glean so much about late 1500s England from Shakespere's plays or the powerful speech of Isaiah 40-61 which beckons the captive Israelites to imagine themsleves back in their land of Promise to carry out more fully God's intentions for them. "Comfort ye comfort ye, comfort ye my people" – very appropriate for this time of year.

Preaching invites, said Dr. Williams, it invites even before it instructs or corrects. It invites us to imagine New Worlds beyond the harried present. This made me think of that statue outside the UN building in New York about beating swords into ploughshares (from Isaiah). That hasn't happened yet on a large scale so the challenge remains for us to seed the Kingdom here and now with our own words and deeds.

All our hopes are grounded in the power of Jesus's Resurrection. A better world is coming. This is why Christians think the remembrance of Jesus in the Communion service and the looking forward to his return gets to the essence of who we are – the power displayed when God resurrected Jesus will yet triumph (Ephesians 1:15-20).

I'm extrapolating a bit from Dr. Williams' wise words, the mark of a good talk. To end the Toronto conference the rector said, all Anglicans gather for a picture with the Archbishop and...after 20 years at St. James Church in Newfoundland (1947-1967) I took the invitation and did so!

I'm right center behind the white-haired Archbishop. A calm jovial group – very Anglican – and younger than you'd think.