The daily bulletins for www.praylambeth.org are compiled each night in a small coastal town in the West of England, on the shores of the Bristol Channel.  Our town does not usually feature in the headlines.  It is a seaside resort and its name is Weston-super-Mare. 

Today, it has been in the headlines and national television news. The reason is that the town’s famous wooden Victorian Pier caught fire this morning and was destroyed in an inferno of flames that could be seen from far away in Wales or Devon.

This was a sad event for all who live in this part of Somerset, and also for many who live much further away. Over the years, millions of people have childhood memories of family holidays with donkey rides on the beach, near this iconic seaside structure.  However, the good news is that there was no loss of life.

What has this to do with Lambeth 2008?  Well, our pier was the ‘flag-ship of our town’.  There is, may I assure you, much more to Weston-super-Mare than the pier.  The Romans were here; The Vikings were here. King Alfred founded the British Navy here.  Oliver Cromwell landed here. Napoleon threatened and a fort was built. In World War 2 German bombers filled the skies.  And now Weston is a pleasant seaside town of 72,000, with lots to do, and many lively Christian churches.

 

Yesterday, our opening message was a wide-ranging prayer for all the bishops (many of whom acknowledge that they are now very tired people).

Today, we ask you, once again, to focus prayer on Archbishop Rowan. 

Monday looks as though it could be a pivotal day in the Conference. Rowan will have heavy responsibility in delivering another Presidential address to the bishops.

Pray that he will be endued with wisdom and courage - and the right words to express his message to the Conference. 

You will also find a profile of Rowan Williams, to enlarge your understanding of this leader, in this Bulletin.

Perhaps you could bear in mind the principle of upholding leaders at critical times, as illustrated in Exodus 17:8-13 'Moses said: Tomorrow I will take my stand on top of the hill holding God's staff.'  Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill.

 

Many of the bishops have opportunity to enjoy local worship today (though some have ministry responsibilities.)  Not surprisingly, many of them are commenting as to how t.i.r.e.d they feel.  So this 'editorial' is simply an encouragement for us to uphold the Conference delegates, both in our personal prayers and in the places where we worship.

The following (adapted) prayer, written by the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, may help us to focus on their needs and God's purpose through this Conference. 

Dear Lord,

We repent of all that we have done that has failed to communicate in word or deed the love of Christ. We confess that, at times, the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ has not remained central in our proclamation and practice and we pray for your help in returning to the primacy of that gospel.

 

John Wimber packed a great deal into the years between his conversion in 1963 and his death in 1997.  One of his memorable sayings was: ‘Your brother is not your enemy’. 

This teaching was linked with Ephesians 6:10-18 in which St Paul reminds the church of the true nature of our warfare and identifies our real enemy.  ‘Stand firm against the schemes of the devil, for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness..’

In Matthew 13:24-30, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus warned against premature human weeding of the harvest fields - not our job.

So a wheel of a shopping trolley may be askew - but should we mend it or amputate it?    When the appearance of deception and distortion is swirling around in the church, we need much pastoral wisdom and even more prayer to avoid doing the wrong thing.  

As you cover the Lambeth Conference over this weekend, please pray hard for the gift of wisdom.  For Monday looks to be shaping up to be a pivotal day at Canterbury.

Please pray - and encourage people you know to join this prayer team around the world - at www.praylambeth.org

John Simons (on behalf of the team)

 

Since the first Lambeth Conference, in 1867, things have certainly changed vastly. 

A century earlier, Voltaire memorably observed that the English bishops were “forced to content themselves with one wife only, and that generally their own”. Certainly the Conference organisers were not expecting more than one spouse per bishop!   And nowadays the Conference is beset with the issues of same-sex partners around the dioceses they lead (or, in the case of Gene Robinson, of some gate-crashing that would never have happened in the good old days.) 

As one contributor has observed: If God had wanted homosexual partnerships, he would have created two Adams and two Eves and invited humans to pair up as they pleased.

Yesterday, was a welcome lull in the proceedings, as the bishops moved to London for what looks to have been an influential act of witness. 

Please pray (and also encourage other intercessors you know to join this prayer team around the world) at www.praylambeth.org

John Simons (on behalf of the team)

Thursday is an exciting  'rest day' for the bishops and their wives.  That is, if you can call restful: an early start, followed by a long coach ride, a March of Witness in central London, lunch at Lambeth Palace, a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, and the a long coach journey back to Canterbury. 

It sounds like a memorable day - and, mercifully, there are no scheduled Fringe events in the evening.

Various verbal time bombs went off yesterday (Wed). An eminent Roman Catholic Cardinal Ivan Diaz (who is 'Prefect for the Pontifical Council for the Evangelisation of Peoples at the Vatican') addressed the Conference.   In speaking of the ecumenical dimension of evangelisation he described a church that forgets its tradition as suffering from 'spiritual Alzheimers' and a church that goes its own way as having 'ecclesial Parkinsons Disease!'  Tough words from the Vatican to Anglicans about the advocacy of liberal re-writes of the Gospel and its ethical outworking.