Not what they seem

Well we’re all off to the Cathedral in Uppsala this morning and then to lunch with the Archbishop and his wife – before heading for the airport. We have been warned that the sermon will be in Swedish. But then many of the sermons which I hear and preach seem to be in strange languages.

I continue to ponder the way in which, even in my short contact with the Porvoo Communion, I can hear change in how the leaders of the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches speak. You begin by hearing institutional solidity and security, homogeneous churches in homogeneous societies, lots of money. But they are now talking of the erosion of that model, of the emergence of a proper and helpful distinction between church and a secular society, about the way in which that may free the church to pursue mission in a new way.

The thing is, of course, that leadership through that kind of change is very difficult. Easier to call for freedom for the captives. Easier too when, as is our experience, you can take risks because you have relatively little to lose. Much harder when visible strength is ebbing away, when nostalgia for the idealised past grows, when blaming creeps in. To lead in that phase requires real quality.

But they have to go through that during the next generation. From it will come a new engagement with society – which leads me to the Pope’s visit to Scotland. Of which more tomorrow or the next day.

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One Response to Not what they seem

  1. I greatly enjoyed meeting +Anders as our link bishop when he was at Växjö. The interface with Sweden has been fascinating, as we try to transition into new places and discover many points of contact. John Harvey Jones said, confronted with unpalateable change, remember you can only get shot once. I met some Swedes who look to England as a model for keeping everybody on board whilst more point out, more truthfully, how England is a model of taking thirty years to get shot.

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