GAFCON Day 1
Greetings from beautiful Kigali, Rwanda!
I'm here at GAFCON IV with 1300 of my best Anglican friends from around the world celebrating God's faithfulness and considering together, "to whom shall we go?"
"To whom shall we go?"
At first blush, this sounds like a mission question: To whom shall I take the gospel? Who do I know that needs Jesus? If that's where your mind goes, praise God. That means you're taking the Great Commission seriously! GAFCON takes the Great Commission seriously, as well - GAFCON III in Jerusalem was themed, 'Proclaiming Christ Faithfully to the Nations!"
Yet, GAFCON is not asking a missional question this year. At least, not primarily a missional question. GAFCON pulled this question from John 6:68. Jesus has just given perhaps his most difficult teaching - that anyone who eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life (vv. 53-56). As was often the case, Jesus' disciples didn't fully understand. In fact, they were complaining amongst themselves about just how shocking this teaching was. Jesus calls them on their complaints and asks if they too will leave him. Then Peter, in one of his best moments, replies, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and we know that you are the Holy One of God," (v. 68).
With this theme, GAFCON IV calls faithful Anglicans back to the very source of all things: Jesus Christ, the Holy One of God who alone has the words of eternal life, mercifully revealed to us in the Scriptures.
Before any sort of business, today's sessions began with a sermon on Colossians 1:15-20 by the Rt. Rev. Jay Behan, the first bishop of the Church of Confessing Anglicans of Aotearoa and New Zealand. In it, Bp. Behan reminded us of who exactly Jesus is: the very image of the invisible God (v. 15), the firstborn over all creation (vv. 15-16) and the head of the Church and the firstborn of the New Creation (v. 18). As such, Jesus is supreme. Jesus is God and Jesus reveals God; Jesus is the lord over all creation, the goal of creation, and the sustainer of creation.
This is the Jesus to whom we go. Only when we recognize that he is sufficient for all of our needs and in him we are washed clean and reconciled to God, can we rightly understand God's work in the world. Then and only then can we transform "to whom shall we go" into a missional question.
From here, we moved into the first plenary session on the history and necessity of GAFCON. That's too much for 10 plenary sessions, let alone a blog post! If you're interested in the history of GAFCON and its place in global Anglicanism, start with this video and follow GAFCON IV online.
Check back for more dispatches from GAFCON. We covet your prayers!