Press Gleanings
Compiled by Valerie Offord

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Confirmation of Election speech for Rt Rev. John Sentamu

The Diocese of York and the Crown Nominations Commission set out a formidable list of requirements for a new Archbishop of York. They sought for someone who would provide prophetic renewal in leadership within the diocese shaping the ministries of all, lay and clergy, closer to the imperatives of the kingdom.

They sought for a faithful teacher of the faith, one who would break open the word of God and make it a tool of life for all. They sought someone who would speak for the whole region, who speak for the north in this our country. Someone not afraid of engaging with the great public issues of the day, someone who would walk confidently among those who make decisions and shape the lives of many.

They sought for a man of prayer whose teaching and whose witness would come out of the depth of an authentic encounter with God. And they sought, recognising all too fully, the defects of his fellow primate, someone who would assist in the administration and the leadership of the whole Church of England; who would share the burdens of administration, who would concern himself with the shaping of the structures of governance of our church. And who would share with his fellow primate the task of speaking for the Church of England in the whole Anglican Communion.

And to list those objects of seeking, and there were others, is to remind you John, uncomfortably, of what you know all too well, that for these and many other reasons expectation lies heavy on your shoulders.

One of our tasks this evening, once the legal business has been done, is to acknowledge, all of us, what expectations we are laying upon you and to express our shared commitment to pray for you regularly and deeply – that that burden does not become intolerable, that it does not begin to crush the child of God that you are – because the Diocese of York and the Crown Nomination Commission do not seek in spite of all those requirements an abstract figure of sanctity, resourcefulness and wisdom but a man of flesh and blood. It seeks a child of God who will most readily and most fully meet all those formidable requirements first and foremost by being a man in touch with God. A man of flesh and blood whose humanity will need affirming and supporting by all of us. In touch with the God who loves human beings in all their extraordinary diversity; their diversity of race and culture, their diversity of background and opinion, their diversity of conviction.

So what will most deeply keep you from being crushed, being burdened by what we lay upon you? Well we hope our prayers will help, but for you it is the knowledge that you are, before anything else, addressed by the word of God. Today we begin the commemoration of William Tyndale, although Tyndale would deeply have disapproved of this style of speaking, it is the eve of the feast of William Tyndale. Saint, scholar, translator of Holy Scripture. And so to think of what it is to be addressed by the word of God is an appropriate matter for this evening.

William Tyndale translated the Bible into English, not so much because he thought all Christians had a right to know what was in it, a kind of primitive freedom of information act. But because he believed that all people had the right to be addressed and to be transformed by it – a much more serious matter. Not about freedom of information but about the access of God’s word to people of every kind. The proverbial ploughboy singing the psalms at his work as Tyndale put it. And there was a great deal at the root of the life of our church, the Church of England, which is about precisely that. The liberation that comes when people are exposed to the word of God. How does that liberation operate?

We all tell ourselves stories about ourselves as individuals, stories about our society and our nation, stories about our church. And we tell those stories in ways that are normally deceiving and being deceived in the words of this evening’s reading. We tell stories that make us comfortable. And we tell other people frequently stories that make them uncomfortable. But Tyndale’s vision is of a Christian community and of Christian people who, as they encounter Holy Scripture, realise there is a story of their lives and of their church and of their nation – deeper and wider, more comprehensive and more lasting than any story we could tell ourselves. The story of the God who has created us, who has promised to be there for us, who has met us in the depth of our failures and our sins, who has reconciled us to him and to one another, and who promises us that in our lives, unlikely as it seems, we shall be living signs of his future and his purpose. That is our story, that is our song – as the hymn has it.

John that is your story, that is your song. You are a man who has already known what it is to be freed by the word of God from slavish obedience to tyranny. You know that your story is the story of the God who makes covenant, who is faithful, who leads in darkness and doubt, in exile and uncertainty, who equips and inspires. And the fact that you know that that is your story is a gift beyond price to the rest of us who seek to find that story as their own.

Tyndale wanted to expose people to the transforming power of God’s word so that they would know what was true about them, that they were the objects of faithful promise, that they were capable of being signs of God’s future. And all of those tasks which we lay upon you today, John, are essentially to do with that. You are to help us find what is true about ourselves in the face of the God of the Bible. You are to renew and inspire your diocese and your province, your fellow bishops in the northern province, your fellow clergy, your lay people in the diocese of York by showing them what their story is. How the word of God engages, shapes, recreates them. You are to speak in and for the Church of England reminding us that the story of the church is always more than we imagine, that it is not the story we tell ourselves or the story we are told by others around us which may be a story of success or of decline – neither here nor there – because the story we need to know is the story of God’s dealings with us.

John we pray for you with the deepest love and the greatest hope. We trust that that hope will not be burdensome and that that love will be creative for you. And I end this evening by turning to that reluctant saint whose celebration is tomorrow. And I read a few words from Tyndale’s Treatise on the Obedience of a Christian Man. It is a better charge for a pastor or indeed any believer than anything that even the Crown Nominations Commission could compose.

‘Let thy care be to prepare thyself with all thy strength for to walk which way he will have thee and to believe that he will go with thee, and assist thee and strength thee against all tyrants and deliver thee out of all tribulation. But what way or by what means he will do it, that commit unto him, and to his godly pleasure and wisdom and cast that care upon him. And though it seem never so unlikely or never so impossible under natural reason, yet believe steadfastly that he will do it. And then shall he according unto his old usage change the course of the world, even in the twinkling of an eye and come suddenly upon our giants even as a thief in the night and encompass them in their wiles and worldly wisdom. When they cry peace and all is safe, then shall their sorrows begin as the pangs of woman that travaileth with child, and then shall he destroy them and deliver thee unto the glorious praise of his mercy and truth.’ Amen.

© Rowan Williams 2005
We are grateful to the Press Office of Lambeth Palace for allowing us to reproduce this text of the speech given at St Mary-le-Bow Church, London on Wednesday 5 October 2005 from their website:

Innovation from Australia
Modern Bible messages

In da Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth,’ the SMS (short message service) version begins. ‘Da earth waz barren, wit no 4m of life;it waz unda a roaring ocean cuvred wit dRkness.

God luvd da ppl of dis wrld so much dat he gave only Son so dat evry1 who has faith in him will... neva really die
John, chapter 3, verse 16

U, Lord, r my shepherd... U lead me 2 streams of peaceful water
Psalm 23, verses 1-2

Not content with a Strine version of the Bible, the Bible Society of Australia has translated the Old and Testaments into text message language. The idea came from the son of a Society employee in Sydney and it took one person a month to convert the entire New and Old Testaments into SMS text.

The Bible Society hopes that young people will send their family or friends verses which can be accessed free over the internet. But older people may feel that the text version lacks the gravitas and elegance of the original. ‘The old days when the Bible was available only in a sombre black cover with a cross on it are long gone;’ said Michael Chant, of the Bible Society. ‘We want to open it up for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests and the SMS version is a logical extension of that.’ Mr Chant went on to say that biblical words of wisdom could be sent to comfort a friend or relative or maybe he suggested other people might just want to send a daily Bible recording to themselves to meditate on while they are on the bus or having their lunch.

Nick Squires It’s the new txtament, mate Daily Telegraph 7 October 2005.

Gosnold Addendum

The Church Times reported on 11 November 2005 that the Gosnold mystery remains (see article entitled DNA may identify America’s founding father TSJ issue no 29 August 2005 p.70). Archaeologists were disappointed to learn that the DNA from the remains of a woman buried in All Saints Church, Shelley, Suffolk, England did not help to identify Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, a founding father of the US. The remains proved not to be those of Gosnold’s sister after all.

The 100-Minute Bible

The title sounds rather like an advertisement, a sort of ‘Christianity in Ten Easy Lessons’. And in fact that is just about what it is: an advertisement. It is for a book written by the Rev. Dr Michael Hinton, and published by The 100-Minute Press, which claims to provide a totally new approach to reading the Bible.

In launching his version of the Bible in Canterbury Cathedral on 21 September last, the Rev. Hinton said that it is a modern text designed to meet the needs of people who have neither the time nor the inclination to read the whole Bible. Yet can one truly compress the 66 books of the Bible as we know it into a text of fewer than 100 pages, which can be read in one hour and twenty minutes? Not that the Rev. Hinton is asking anyone to test the timing. He explains that he has achieved the 100-minute version by eliminating many of the boring, repetitive sections that do not add anything to the main story —the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. So much of the Old Testament is a not very readable lesson on the history over many hundreds of years of the biblical lands -and the Jewish people.

I am sure there are many people who (like myself ) have started on more than one occasion to read the Bible and have given it up. In introducing his new version of the Bible Rev. Hinton assures us that nothing essential has been left out. It is all there, the story of Jesus—his birth in Bethlehem, the adoration of the shepherds and the Magi, the slaughter of the innocents, the parables and the miracles, the Sermon on the Mount. But some great moments have been downplayed and the whole has been written in down-to-earth everyday language or, as he puts it, in good, clear contemporary English. The version includes some maps and explanations of Old Testament geography so that the actions and migrations of peoples in by-gone times can be related to the geography of the region as we know it today.

Angela Butler, October 2005

Comparative texts

The prodigal son
100-Minute Bible: His father arranged a huge party for him on his return
Authorised Version: But his father said to his servants: Bring quickly the best robe and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet, and bring the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and make merry.
The Lord’s Prayer
100-Minute Bible:And do not bring us to the time of testing, but rescue us from the evil one.
Authorised Version: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
On Christ’s teaching
100-Minute Bible: He gave offence by forgiving sins.
Authorised Version: The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.


Editor’s note Angela Butler’s article first appeared in Holy Trinity Geneva Newsletter no 341 November 2005