"Anglicans were Blind but now they see," Bishop Robinson Cavilcanti
HOPE AND A FUTURE CONFERENCE
North-American Anglicanism: Faith and Hope, Pittsburgh, PA, November 10-12, 2005.
By the Rt. Revd. Robinson Cavalcanti
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Grace and Peace!
Greetings from the Anglican Diocese of Recife - Brazil! Greetings from this "remote" Northeast Brazil in the "remote" South America!
Greetings from a normal Anglican Diocese, with a normal life as a biblical based, orthodox, missionary and very dynamic community. All our suffering, thanks God, did not change our day to day life: a life of fellowship, of evangelism and of service, as a committed missionary people. Conversions, baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, social and prophetic actions are growing every day, as a sign of our dependence from the Lord of the Church. During this hard time, of discriminations, of persecutions, of defamations, of illegalities from our provincial leadership, the Holy Spirit was working in us and through us, and we had been united by pain. We all grow in maturity and we are now, more then ever looking for exchange of experiences, particularly with you, my brothers and my sisters, our partners of martyrdom in this holy and blessed pilgrimage. This is not the end of Anglicanism, but the beginning of a new and faithful Anglican Communion.
I would like, from the deep of my heart, to than very much the organizers of this Congress for the invitation to be with you here, representing the Diocese of Recife, in this important and crucial moment for the life and for the future of the Anglican Communion, particularly in North-America. With this noble gesture from yours we feel loved and, we feel part of this expression as a family of God's people.
Looking back to our recent history, I am sure that my lonely vote among the Brazilian delegation for Resolution 1.10 in the last Lambeth Conference, 1998, was not in vain.
We are sure that the inclusion of the principles of that Resolution, by a large majority of our Synod, in our Diocesan Canons was also not in vain. We are sure that our Diocese firm stand for the biblical and apostolic faith, and our Diocese firm stand against Gene Robinson consagration, as an expression of the deep believes of our clergy and our laity, although we paid a heavy price, was also not in vain. The people of the Diocese or Recife wholehearted supported this Bishop to come to Ohio for that blessed ceremony of Confirmation.
We paid a heavy price also for that, but I am sure that one thousand times it would be again necessary I would not expect other words from my people than, again, "Go, Bishop, Go". Our clergy and our laity has wholehearted supported the Bishop's and the Diocesan Standing Committee in their decision to receive discriminated and persecuted priests and congregations from this country.
We are a paying a heavy price also for that, but I am sure that the unanimously voice from my people is always saying: "Welcome, brothers and sisters, welcome all those looking for a harbour, now under the Primacial Authority of The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America, after that courageous decision of Archbishop Gregory Venables, with full support from the Global South Primates.
Thank you my brothers and my sisters for you support, for your prayers. I am sure that with the time passing more and more clarification is coming about the situation in Recife, and about the situation in the Province of Brazil, that in malicious silence, without convention votes, but with advancing by practice, is following the same false teaching and practice that are a sad part of the life of most of the North-American Province. Lies and distorted versions will give place for truth, once and for all.
I would like to share with you this morning some thoughts from a biblical text. It is written in Matthew 28:1-10:
"After the Sabbath at drawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look to the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men". The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified". He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: "He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you". So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings". He said. They came to him clasping his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them: "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me".
Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the midst of all our insecurities, in the midst of this deep crisis of our Civilization, in the midst of the present crisis of Christendom, and, particularly, in the midst of the deep crisis of Anglicanism, good intentions and noble sentiments are not enough, if we are looking for a solution in the wrong direction. The place, the source for looking for a solution is not the tomb. The tomb is empty. The tomb is the past.
It would be the wrong place and the wrong moment, to look for answers to our weaknesses. God demonstrated his power over the creation, the earth and the angels. When the earthquake comes, when the stone rolls, when the angels appears and speak, when the supernatural is a reality and miracles happens, we are assured that human institutions and human authorities are nothing. Ecclesiastical authorities, with all their apparent powers, with all their money, with all their properties, are nothing, because we have in favor of the chose people, the faithful people, clear demonstrations of the power of God. The so- called powerful of this world becomes like dead men. History, we know is a museum of false leaders and a cemetery of false institutions.
Don't look for solutions in the empty tomb! Don't go there. The stone is already rolled back. Don't look for Jesus in the tomb anymore. Yes, once he was there. Yes, once he was crucified and died for our sins. But now, He is not there, He has risen. He is alive. He has all power over nature; He gives order to the angels. He is among us, assisting us encouraging us. But, He is also the Lord of History and the Lord of the Church, and in both, History and Church, He continues to perform miracles today. Is there doubt in your hearts? Do not stay paralyzed, but just move. Come and see the place, once and for all. Come and see God's action. Come and see the new situation.
For many years many orthodox Anglicans were looking for the wrong direction or for no direction at all. They were accommodated and divided. They were not organized. Their western education made difficult for them to believe in the supernatural, to believe in angels, to believe that the power of God is available for his people today. May be, for some, they even had difficult in believing in the reality of the Jesus has risen from the dead. In the midst of all these troubles I am sure that your faith was renewed.
In the word of the poet: "Anglicans were blind, but now they see". We found Him. We saw Him. We rediscovered His presence, His power, and His teaching.
There are a new confidence and a new joy. What, then, may we do? Please, let us go quickly and tell others, let us go quickly and share these demonstrations of the power of God!
We move, we go, we tell, we unite; we share, under the promise "There you will see him". In this gathering we will see him, find him, listen to him.
Like the women, after the impact of the new and of the different, let us hurry away from the tomb, afraid, may be, but with joy, yes, let us ran and tell the others. Doing this, during this time, by God's grace, we became a great people with a great force. And how about the tomb keepers of the ECUSA leadership? And how about the soldiers keepers of 815? And how about the multitude of "wise" revisionists? In the deep of their souls they know that they that are afraid, they are shaking, that they area defeated, that they are like dead men.
What happens when we obey to the heaven guidance? What happens when we move fast?
"Suddenly Jesus met us" .The routine of religion, the traditional religion, the culture religion gives place to the reality of the living Christ. All of us in this place today already moved already from the empty tomb, moved, and shared, because Jesus met us. But he is asking more. He is asking new steps, He is asking new movements. He is asking new decisions. The Lord of History is asking us to write new pages in History. The Lord of the Church is demanding decisions about the Church. We are human, we are normal, we are weak, we fear the new, we fear the unknown, and we fear the price we may need to pay for that. But what is the message that is coming from the Lord? What is He expecting from us? What is our duty today? Don't keep this message for you. "Go and tell your brothers. Go to Galilee, go to Montana, go to Rwanda, and go to Recife. Please, come and tell us. But also, come and listen from us. "Go and tell your brothers... and they will see me. Go and listen to your brothers, because they already saw me".
Are your insecure? If so, you are normal? Do you fear martyrdom? If so, you are normal. Even the Lord Jesus had his Gethsemane, a terrible moment for his human nature. But finally he surrendered to His father's purpose, He accepted to pay the price of the fulfillment of his mission "Yet not as I will, but as you will?" Are we ready to say the same to God our father today?
A very central part of the text we read is the first words from Jesus, the first message to his disciples: "Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid". Do not be afraid. Do not fear!
Do not be afraid of the disturbing reality of Secularism, do not be afraid of the expansion of Islam, do not be afraid of your Bishop too. Do not be afraid of loosing your properties, of loosing your jobs, of loosing your salaries, of loosing your pensions, of loosing your status, of loosing your licenses. Do not be afraid. My dear brothers and sisters, we know, by faith that much more has He to give back to us, and multiplied, many times, in his way and his moment, not ours.
Today, North-Americans Anglicans area aware and informed about their reality. They are meeting. They area uniting. They area praying. They area planning. They area listen to God's word and to one another words. They are watching the international scenario. They have dreams. They are organizing wonderful and inspirational meetings like this one. Praise the Lord for that. Of course that we are advancing, that we are achieving. New pages of Church History are already being written.
But it seems clear for me, and for many people in many countries, that this is not enough. Up to this point you cannot close this meeting, come back to your homes and congregations, to stay in the same step, waiting for the next wonderful and inspiring gathering, and the next, and the next...
There is an urgent, very urgent, need to reform Anglicanism, starting with us.
Of course we have faith and hope in the future of Anglicanism in North-America and worldwide, not by an exercise of "positive thinking", but by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. But God wants to write a new chapter in the history of the Anglican Communion, and it has to start here, in North-America, with you, and now.
Many times in the history of God's people, the laws of men need to be broken in order the Law of God must be obeyed. A new draft, a new realignment. New forms for the old and eternal content. I know and you know that with the globalization, jet planes and the internet, with de post-modern culture, Geography and Burocracy are given spaces for new priorities and new boundaries: the boundaries of doctrines, the boundaries of values. The new reality of Anglicanism is the reality of networks of similarities. This is the standard and the model for the future for the survival of our beloved Anglican Communion. Networks of similarities and not the old model or other models.
There is a long way to go, but, as in other decisive moments in the History of the Church, we need to walk by faith, we need to obey His voice, we need to have the courage and the wisdom to create de new forms to preserve the old message. Please, God tell us, please, "Do not be afraid".
For good or for bad, you are the most powerful nation in the world today, but, in general, communicating a very weak moral message. The world is watching you, the Bible believing Anglicans in North America today. Expecting something from you, orthodox Anglican in North America today.
The tomb is empty. The stone rolled back. The angel spoke. The earth quakes. Jesus is risen. Go and tell. Go and do. Do not fear.
May God bless us all, now and forever.
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