Christchurch New Zealand and Christ Church Cathedral Dublin may be at opposite corners of the globe but when 5 major earthquakes and over 10,000 aftershocks struck Christchurch New Zealand between September 2010 and December 2011, the people of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin responded with love and generosity. Preaching at the Cathedral in Dublin yesterday while attending the meeting of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), Bishop Victoria Matthews thanked the cathedral community:
"Because you have been Jesus' hands and heart for us, we have been able to continue in faith and in turn reach out to those who have lost homes and businesses."
Reflecting on the demands of the Gospel, Bishop Matthews observed that Christian discipleship "Requires us to step up and become deeply involved in whatever confronts our neighbour."
"If you are a disciple, the question remains whether you are prepared to get involved and get your hands dirty in ministry. In the words of Jesus "If anyone wants to follow me, he must forget himself, carry his cross and follow me."
For the people of Christ Church New Zealand this experience had led to a deepened sense of Communion.
"With every step our relationship and communion with one another has deepened and we realised that we are members of the Body of Christ." Bishop Matthews explained.
A major focus of IASCUFO's work is on promoting the deepening of Communion not only among the Churches of the Anglican Communion but also in seeking the visible unity of God's Church. Not only is this an important part of the Christian vocation but there is a particular Anglican contribution to be made.
During their Dublin meeting, IASCUFO members have been reflecting on the fruitful conversations taking place within the international ecumenical dialogues of the Anglican Communion. The new phase of dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church (ARCIC III) has this year met a second time in Hong Kong and valuable discussion took place on the relationship between the local and universal church. International dialogues with the Methodist and Lutheran churches have in many places enabled concrete agreements to engage in joint mission and service. Immediately prior to the IASCUFO meeting, the Anglican-Orthodox talks took place and identified a shared theological basis on which to understand the nature of the human person.
"In all these relationships, there is much which is encouraging. Dialogue members have formed deep friendships. Out of this comes a commitment to address difficult questions and speak together on important issues such as the environment and human life. The World Council of Churches Assembly, to be held in Korea in 2013, will be an important global Christian gathering addressing these issues under the theme God of life, lead us to justice and peace," said IASCUFO Secretary, Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan.
A commitment to getting involved and to seeking a deeper communion between members of the Body of Christ is not always an easy thing. But as Bishop Matthews pointed out, it is an essential part of the Christian vocation:
"It is our calling in Christ and it is meant to be costly."
IASCUFO continues its meeting in Dublin until 19th September.