At a time of challenge, the Church of England is very fortunate to have at its head, one of its most respected leaders for many years.
The recent story of his own history, within a very human messy family life, resonated with believers and non- believers alike, and part of this arose out of the fact that he made perfectly clear that his own sense of identity could survive, because of his clear and unshakeable confidence in Christ.
That confidence is not passive, only comforting him when life’s vicissitudes bring difficulty to his door. It has actively directed choices.
Although many may have forgotten, this quiet, prayerful man has previously given his own personal safety to God’s grace when he stepped into a boat with armed terrorists in Nigeria to negotiate the release of hostages, many in this country retained a sense of respect for him that derived from this and stories like it.. They may have forgotten that he first telephoned his wife to say goodbye in case he should be killed by those to whom he was surrendering his safety, but with every story , an unconscious sense of authenticity is added to our subliminal memory that here, at least, is a public figure of integrity.
Even better, he speaks like a normal person.
Unlike his fine but stereotypically academic predecessor, Archbishop Justin sounds like people we know: more articulate, perhaps , more prayerful – certainly – but nevertheless just like us. He also has a familiar sense of his own fallibility. He does not rely on his own strength but on Christ alone.
Brother Ivo recently heard him describe how he responded to his early church’s encouragement of the young pre-ordination Justin Welby to join them knocking on doors during its evangelisation week. He hated it. He is , in that, “just like us”
The Lord clearly had plans for his hesitant follower however.
As a result of that recollection of embarrassed Englishness, he confided that when it comes to speaking of faith matters, he now has his own personal mantra; before every press or television interview, just before the first question he says inwardly to himself “Don’t forget to mention Christ”.
You cannot engage with him with any serious question, whether it be migration, tax or family without him bringing it back to his deep personal relationship with Christ. He does what it says on the Mitre.
In Archbishop Justin we have a priceless asset, a leader who naturally and authentically shows to the world what It is to have a daily engagement with Christ in prayer , and how this can affect how we live in a way that many will secretly envy.
In a video released yesterday, we are being given an opportunity to share that witness. Young people especially are receptive to this kind of testimony. They can spot a fake.
Justin Welby is no fake.
Many of us are shy to speak so openly of our faith as he does. Whilst it is certainly ” his job ” to do so, we should not underestimate what that costs him in daily devotion and struggle, to maintain hope in a world where that often becomes very difficult.
That he does so is testimony to what Christ gives to his faithful. He lifts us up.
So why would Christian people not want to learn from this? Why would we not want to share it?
Now we can. Through the magic of the digital world, you can let the Archbishop encourage you in your doubts and point you to the way in which you and your church can share what he wishes to give, which is quite simply, what Christ has given him.
All you have to do is click here That is what Brother Ivo did, and he shared it with you,
Go and do thou likewise.