The Bishop of London’s Installation Sermon

Today as I respond to the Call of Christ to a new ministry I recall my first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world. In the words of St Augustine ‘For you I am your bishop but with you I am a Christian’. Whether in London, Salisbury, or Crediton, or London again, my calling is one and the same.

At the heart of Christianity is a relationship. Not a project or a structure or a theological debate but a relationship, a being known by name. As Mary stood weeping at the tomb it was only when Jesus called her by name ’Mary’ that she recognized him. Peter on the sea shore encountering Christ was asked by name, ‘Simon son of John do you love me?’ Our epistle reading tells us that we are chosen and loved not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done through Jesus Christ.

By chance today is International Nurses day – it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence was an epidemiologist, a statistician, a social reformer, theologian and nurse. She has inspired generations of nurses. At the heart of what she did was to use the ordinary skills we all possess and can use if we are brave enough, the skill to build human relationships. If we want to improve public health today, if we want to improve the life chances of those who are still left behind and failed by our education system, if we want to reduce the horrifyingly high number of young deaths from knife and gun crime occurring in this wonderful city, we have to build relationships, and if we want to see more people transformed by the love of God then we have to reach out, to build relationships.

After the Great Fire of 1666, the only statue to survive in this Cathedral unscathed was that of the poet John Donne who reminds us that no one is an island entire of itself; every one is a piece of the continent a part of the main.

And how should we establish such relationships? With compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience; bearing with one another, forgiving one another and above all clothed with love which binds everything together in unity.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues