Monday, 30 June 2014

So much to learn

Yesterday at St. Mary's we were joined by two of our Kenyan brothers and sisters who are in Chelmsford Diocese for a few weeks to help us celebrate our diocesan centenary. It was a particular joy to welcome Canon Moses, Principal of St. Andrew's College of Theology and Development, and Catherine Mwangi, who heads up the Anglican Development Services of Mount Kenya East. When I visited Kenya with my friend Glen for the consecration of the Bishop of Kirinyaga in 2012, Canon Moses was our host and made sure we had a wonderfully enriching time, offering us generous hospitality in the midst of a very busy period. On our previous church visit in 2011 we had seen something of the impact of the development services (known as CCS at the time) in working in developing sustainable communities. Katie, our curate, was in Kenya during Lent and spent time with Catherine and so was pleased to meet her again. Catherine will be staying with us at St. Mary's later in the week and preaching on Sunday morning.

with Catherine, Moses and
Roger (Dean of Mission and Ministry)
During the service our guests were invited to bring greetings from Kenya. As Canon Moses spoke he could not help but refer to the fact that five of his students had been refused visas to visit us in the diocese. It was clearly a matter of great hurt and pain that he was with us but his students were not and I felt shame for our country. Our immigration policies welcome many of the richest people in the world with open arms. Some of these people have acquired their wealth by extremely dubious means but in the UK it seems money talks. Unfortunately the Kenyan students don't have much money, they are ordinands training for ministry in their homeland and so their visas were turned down, despite assurances offered by bishops and even the archbishop.

And then Canon Moses challenged us to forgive and to trust the purposes of God. Quoting from Romans 8:28: 'We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose' he asked us if we believe this is true? Here is a man who not only speaks the gospel but lives it out, even in the midst of pain, hurt and rejection. We must forgive and pray for those who have made the decision to prevent our brothers and sisters in Christ from joining us. No words of bitterness or resentment, rather words of the grace of God spoken into a situation of injustice. We have so much to learn from our sisters and brothers in Christ.

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