Friday, 22 March 2013
Canterbury Cathedral Thursday 21st March
This seemed to be “Installation Part Two” after the ABC’s confirmation I had attended in St Paul’s last month. The “Inauguration of the Ministry of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury” took place today in the Cathedral and a congregation of some 2,000 people seemed to represent all the various walks of my own life in Christ.
As Master of the Worshipful Company of Marketors in mufti, it was good to be there able to witness the Masters and Prime Wardens of the Great Twelve Livery Companies process with the Lord Mayor of London towards their stalls. The Bishop of London was also there as Dean to the Canterbury Province. I sat in glorious viewing majesty close to the High Altar and the Chair of St Augustine, where the Archbishop was to be soon installed as Primate of All England by the Dean of Canterbury Robert Willis – a long time friend and acquaintance of mine.
The Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Her Majesty the Queen, was represented by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, newly returned from world wide travels, probably not quite knowing where they were after such a hectic itinerary. The Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker were also present, along with the Prime Minister sitting companionably close to Opposition Leader Ed Miliband after the heated PMQ and Budget exchanges of the previous day. And of course there were priests and lay people from across the world of the Anglican Communion. I was there both as a Canterbury representative on the General Synod of the Church of England and as a Churchwarden in the Canterbury Diocese. It was a truly glorious service full of majesty, sincerity and graciousness.
It also was a first in two ways:
The Archbishop has a background in the oil industry. He refers to his time at Elf, the once French-owned State Company, where he was a so called Elf ‘model employee with a razor-sharp brain’ who became known as a finance shark with a brilliant brain. More recently serving on the Banking Standards Committee and advising on monetary issues, his business acumen is bound to be greatly beneficial to the Church of England as it review its finances and ever dwindling income.
Secondly, the Archdeacon of Canterbury, Sheila Watson, also well-known to me, became the first woman in the Church of England to actually induct an Archbishop of Canterbury. It was a ceremony flavoured with warmth and generosity as the Archdeacon took His Grace Justin Welby gently by the hand and placed him on the Diocesan Throne, accompanying her words with a smile, looking intensely into his eyes.
The Archbishop’s sermon, based on the Gospel reading from Matthew, of Peter walking diffidently on water, intimated that we too have ‘every possible reason for optimism’ and that ‘the utterly absurd is absolutely reasonable’ when we are with Jesus. We surely need to heed his advice and get out of the boat with Christ’s liberated courage and love abounding. Let us provoke each other and do better! It was an inspiring and emotional start to his walk with all of us.