Hallo again to all.
The end of a secular year brings with it all manner of rosters. Gobs of information is filtered into intriguing data sets, from Honours Lists and Best Movies to Wettest Year on Record and '12 reasons to be cheerful about 2012'.
Now, we murmured to ourselves, there's a challenge for this nearly New Year's Eve! Can we find 12 reasons to be cheerful about the Anglican Communion as we teeter on the threshold of AD 2013?
Since we don't have all that much time to think about it, it might just be possible — as we're writing this, it's just after 1pm in New Zealand, so we must finish this letter before 'our brethren neath the western sky' are too far into New Year's Eve.
Ready, steady, go! In no particular order:
1. There is a new Archbishop of Canterbury. This can make an enormous difference in, well, lots. Justin Welby is undeniably bright, comfortable in his skin, willing to speak plainly, and seems to have a laudable degree of unflappability. These things bode well.
2. The Communion still holds, for better or worse. The constituent parts of a decade ago are still the constituent parts. The formula, simplistic as it is, for determining who is and who isn't a member hasn't been replaced by a divisive and unworkable covenant.
3. Hymns are still sung. In an age of hip hop and techno and house music, this is really quite astonishing and worth celebrating.
4. The Book of Common Prayer still exists, albeit in various idiomatic forms, which some will applaud and others will lament. But it exists and is used and remains a foundational touchstone of what it means to be Anglican.
5. The abuse of power by Bishop Nolbert Kunonga is at last being stopped. It should have happened long ago, but it has happened in 2012.
6. As perhaps the most well-known representative of the Communion, HM the Queen remains a fine example of what it means to be an Anglican lay person.
7. As snarky, tendentious, and bitter as we can be in debates about the things that divide us, we no longer behead, draw, and quarter those daring to disagree with us. That may seem silly to point out, but arranging the death of one's opponents in the Church has been far more common in religious history than not.
8. Project Canterbury continues its happy growth, serving as a treasure house of all that has been Anglican. It's not a museum or an archive — well, it is, sort of — it's rather a massive guidebook to how things were and what we might learn from that. We are not wiser than our forebears. And a 18-year-old began the project, many years ago. That alone is reason to be cheerful!
9. Evensong. It exists, of course more flourishingly in England, but found here and there throughout the Communion. It is a liturgical gift of surpassing beauty.
10. The emergence of two new series of detective stories with an Anglican priest. As much as we delight in clerical detectives past, the fact that two can be brought into the world in AD 2012. One, born of an impeccable pedigree, is Canon Sidney Chambers. The other features the Reverend Thomas Christmas, making his way through 12 particularly gruesome days of Christmas in an English village.
11. The bonds of affection amongst Anglicans round the world are stronger through social media. Yes, there are rants and whinges, but there are also connections and charity. This may seem a small thing, but it's likely greater than we know.
12. There are still delightfully absurd texts set to Anglican chant. This YouTube video — The Rules of Cricket — proves it.
So cheer up, dear friends, and sail on into AD 2013.
See you next year!
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