web analytics

Don’t just do something – sit there

The Very Revd Samy Fawzy Shehata and the Archbishop of Canterbury
The Very Revd Samy Fawzy Shehata and the Archbishop of Canterbury

As we plummet towards Lent, many parishes, Christian communities, and individuals will be gearing up for the busyest time of the church year. This site is dedicated to quality worship and contemplative spirituality – counter-cultural values. Sadly, often counter-cultural for Christian communities. The Archbishop of Canterbury recently dedicated St. Mark’s pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt, and installed the dean, the Very Revd. Samy Fawzy Shehata. Archbishop Rowan, in his sermon which Dean Sammy is seen here translating into Arabic, made strong points about a church schedule which is filled rather than simplified. Maybe, even now, we can consider doing less (and praying more!) for Lent:

Many years ago I lived in a town where there was a very active church indeed. Outside this church was an enormous notice board, it must have been about six feet square. It seemed that every single moment of the week was taken up by activity, but I’ve no doubt that it was a very good church and a very loving and prayerful parish.

And yet that notice board used to worry me and it still does. It seems to me that it speaks of an idea of the church which supposes that the church is about human beings doing things. When you looked at that church you would have thought what a lot of things they do here, but I am still wondering if anybody ever asked does God do things here? There seemed to be just a slight risk that there was hardly any room in the week for God to find his way in among all these activities…

So my hope and my prayer for this church and this congregation is this: May it be a place about which people say, “Jesus is alive there.” May it be a place where human beings are coming alive because Jesus is alive. May it be a place where people are learning how to pray because they are listening to Jesus praying in his body. And may the notice board outside never be too crowded.

The full text of the sermon is here (surprisingly, for an official Anglican site, “God” is rendered as “god” – I have corrected this above.)

Podcast of the sermon

Similar Posts:

2 thoughts on “Don’t just do something – sit there”

  1. Yes! I couldn’t agree more.

    I wrote about this in general (i.e. not in relation to Lent) in my essay for the Episcopal CafĂ© “On Sabbath and the Overscheduling of Churches” – except that the editors changed the title to “Reclaiming the Sabbath” and not all readers got the systemic issue I was raising. It wasn’t about us as individuals as much as about our congregations.

    We are particularly prone to this busy-ness in Lent, which is the great retreat of the Church before Easter, a time of contemplation if there ever was one. Maybe we should form a group (online and otherwise) to “take the pledge” as we say in the US (about other things, not prayer) to simplify, simplify during the Lenten season.

Leave a Reply to Fran Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.