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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Because you just can't make this stuff up - Chapter II

Today, the Most Rev'd and Rt. Hon. Jon Tucker Mugabi Sentamu, Archbishop of York (England), came to the House of Deputies, ostensibly to deliver a message to us from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

When George Werner, President of the House of Deputies, announced that the Archbishop of York was present and the purpose of his visit, a wave of anxiety overtook the House. Some of us were quite certain that some cagey old British man in a purple shirt was going to get up and wag his finger at us and tell us how naughty we had been and how we should behave.

Imagine our surprise when a short man with mahogany skin and an absolutely stunning smile stepped into the podium and took over the microphone. His warmth, his charm, his amazing Christ-filled graciousness filled the room like a balm to our quivering anxiety.

He told us the story – the highly shortened version – of his life as a child in Uganda, under the cruel reign of Idi Amin. “It was not an easy childhood,” he said, in what was an obvious understatement. He spoke of his flight to England – how he was taken in as a refugee and attended school where his religiosity was taunted and he was nicknamed “The Pope.”

“And, look now,” he said, with genuine incredulity, “See what God has done! Who knew that the young boy, a poor refugee from Uganda, would one day become Archbishop of York.”

Smiling even more broadly he said what was to many ears in that convention hall the real message we so desperately needed to hear. “This is because, with God, all things are possible.”

Then he closed with this story from South Africa. He said that, while he was there, he saw this written on a wall:

When I was born, I was black.
When I go out into the sun, I am black.
When I am cold, I am black.
When I am ill, I am black.
When I die, I am black.
When I am dead and in the grave, I am black.

When you are born, you are white.
When you go out into the sun, you are brown.
When you are cold, you are blue.
When you are ill, you are jaundiced.
When you die, you are purple.
When your are dead and in the grave, you are black.

So tell me, why is it that I am called ‘colored’?

It was a delightful story about the difference of language and culture and the power of God to work through it all to bring something new into being.

Imagine! A Ugandan refugee as the Archbishop of York!

You just can't make this stuff up!

EMK+ 061306

1 comment:

Dr Tyler said...

Elizabeth,

Thank-you for doing this and allowing those of us who are supporting you in prayer to partake of General Convention through your words.

God be with you and the rest of the Newark Depuation.

Love,
Tyler