THE UNIVERSALITY
OF THE CHURCH

John Twistleton shares some thoughts on June 10, 2000

 

SATURDAY 10 JUNE 2000 - a day that will always be etched on my heart, even if it somewhat wore me out as a participant in both Christ our Future and Jesus Day 2000.

The day started as, like many London priests and people, I headed for the London Arena. On entry I was leafleted for March for Jesus. The leaflet, coupled with Bishop John's appeal at the end of the Mass, secured my determination to cross the Thames to Blackheath afterwards.

How wonderful for a Forward in Faith priest, so often made to feel in a sidestream of the Church, to be part of a wonderful capturing of the universal Church in an awesome Eucharist! Christ our Future is said to have been the largest Anglican gathering for the Millennium and, despite the delayed start, proved the best sort of Church of England Eucharist. One, to quote from our Bishop's sermon, that saw 'substance' triumph over 'style'. There was little in the style of celebration that distracted from the unselfconscious worship we associate with mainstream Christianity. We were able to associate ourselves through the hands of the Archbishop of York with 'the catholic oblation of Jesus Christ', whose image presided over the gathering.

'The Catholic faith is this: we worship...' runs the Athanasian Creed - and worship we did.

Christ our Future was a grand reminder that the Eucharist is the very fount of our mission. The rite of consecration, with extended showing of the Host and Chalice as the trumpets blew, was the main note of triumph struck - for Jesus, not Anglo-catholics. The Mass ended appropriately with the bidding 'to proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord'. This bidding had almost immediate significance in my case.

Curtailing with some sadness the inevitable meetings with old friends and former parishioners - I managed some - I headed back to the Docklands Railway. A short journey to Cutty Sark Station was followed by a long walk up to Blackheath where thousands still remained in prayer as part of Jesus Day 2000. This event organised by March for Jesus was bringing up to 15 million people from over 150 countries together in marches and prayer services all around the globe. With a group from Christ our Future, I joined in another form of universal prayer in a liturgy that was set for use that day in all over the world:

As we greet the dawn of another thousand years, we worship you and offer ourselves afresh as your servants. Jesus Christ, Son of Righteousness, rise upon this new day with healing in your wings. Jesus Christ, Light of the world cause your light of truth to shine in our darkness. Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world let your Holy Spirit convict of sin, righteousness and judgement.

From one Archbishop to another - the Jesus Day in London concluded with a powerful appeal from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who reminded the gathering of the atrocities he had seen himself in Rwanda as a spur for prayer and action for justice in the name of Christ, particularly for the world's children.

A second Archbishop blessed a second crowd that then dispersed. With them I made my way back down to the railway, crossing the Greenwich meridian, yet another reminder of the universality of Jesus and his Church that I had seen so amply witnessed on that memorable eve of Pentecost, Saturday 10 June 2000.

John Twisleton is Edmonton Area Missioner

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