A Maundy Message in the World's Eye

by Gerry Lynch last modified 29 Mar, 2018 04:29 PM

Bishop says consequences of ‘violation’ still unfolding; child abuse inquiry, fake news and lack of national consensus also key topics

The Bishop of Salisbury has said the consequences of the ‘violation’ of the city are still unfolding and that international tensions are rising in a way he cannot recall.

In a wide ranging sermon at his Diocese’s annual Maundy Thursday Chrism Mass, where clergy and lay ministers gather to renew their vows, the Bishop also spoke about the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and what the Church must learn from it, and how English society no longer shares a common narrative of the type that sustained the post-war consensus around the welfare state and international reconciliation.

He also said that coming into Salisbury from outside, as most of the congregation had done, was an affirmation of the Christian belief in new life, hope, and resurrection.

In his welcome to the service, the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam said:

“Coming to Salisbury in present circumstances feels like a very strong affirmation of belief in the Christian story on which this cathedral city was founded nearly 800 years ago. When things go wrong we believe in new life, hope and resurrection. What we do here and in our churches in the next few days attests that truth, love and justice matter in the way in which we live with one another.”

An excerpt from his sermon follows:

“Salisbury has had a very strange few weeks. Three Sundays ago two Russians were found in a critical condition on a bench as a consequence of a deadly military grade nerve agent. It was an attack not just on them but a violation of the city in which other people got caught up. A policeman went to their aid. The consequences are still unfolding. Sergei and Yulia Skripal are still in intensive care and a small section of the city is still closed. The policeman is on the mend but there has been a loss of confidence in each other. Who can we trust and how are we to live together? The implications have gone way beyond Salisbury. Twenty countries are sending home Russians from their embassies and tensions have risen in a way I cannot recall.

“The Christian story is what Salisbury was built on nearly 800 years ago. It is still the organizing principle of the city now. In Holy Week we remember that Christ came into Jerusalem as messiah and king, had supper with his friends, was betrayed, denied, falsely accused, tried by earthly powers and crucified and on the third day rose again. You can’t keep a good God down.

“This Holy Week is an opportunity to assert our faith in a deeper and different way of truth, sacrificial love and life everlasting. It is the way of the cross and these dry bones can and do live.

“Our Archbishop, Justin, has a new book out: Reimagining Britain: Foundations for Hope. His starting point is that when he was growing up there was a shared vision of Britain post-war with a commitment born of adversity to build a future in which things could only get better through a commitment to housing, education and the heath service and of course to the reconciliation of Europe. That unifying vision has gone. Archbishop Justin starts to construct a new vision around community, courage and stability, shared values and beliefs for the common good.

“It is an important project, all the more so in a post-truth world with fake news and in which powerful people assert ‘me first’.”

The full text of the sermon is available on this website via this link.

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