Bishop of Kingston, Jamaica, Reverend Robert Thompson, wants Anglicans to listen more and learn from life changing experiences that have a biblical meaning, in order to become good messengers of the church.
The Bishop passed this message on to Barbadians, who this morning gathered in their thousands at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium for the Annual Diocesan Service.
Delivering the Sermon, Rev Thompson made references to experiences of Jesus’ disciples, including Moses at Mount Sinai, and Paul on the Road to Damascus.
“It takes experiences like these to change our perspective on life, and it is with such experiences that our world becomes changed,” he said to a packed gymnasium that included Archbishop of the West Indies Reverend Dr John Holder.
“It is for this reason why we meet week after week for worship. We go to the place where we believe exists the power to transform life,” Thompson said, while speaking of ‘disrupting’ the old ways of seeing and bringing in new ways of being.
“Yet, notwithstanding the warm feeling that fill up our souls as we sing our favourite hymns… we must be quick to point out that the place of worship can easily become a lace of escape. It can become that place where we bury our heads in the sand.”
He said too many Anglicans wanted a permanent religious experience.
“They cannot bear to come down from the mountain top. But God never intended for us to remain at the place of worship,” he explained.
He urged Anglicans to stop being reluctant to go into the community with the message of spirituality.
“We first have to change, and that is difficult thing for most of us, if not all of us. It means dying to whom we have been.
“Being a beacon of Christ is not a matter of turning other people into Christians like ourselves. We are not recruiting people to adopt our views and our identity,” Rev Thompson pointed out.
“Before we can become the sending church, to be a beacon of Christ’s presence in the community, we must first learn to be the listening church. The church cannot be a missionary church unless it is a learning church. And if it is a learning church that speak the truth about the gospel, we must listen.”
Rev’d Thompson added, “there are two kinds of listening. We listen to the community and the world around us. The church is often guilty of answering questions that were never asked”.
Relating directly to occurrences in the community, he said, ” Today the church must listen and respond to the cry of our children, and victims of violence and of all kinds of abuse.”
“But there is another kind of listening that God requires of us today. The kind of listening that comes from deep within the silence of our heart. In the words of that famous song, we need to learn to listen to the sound of silence.”