Monday, 11 January 2010

More on being the beloved as we welcome the WCC's general secretary

Today the WCC's new general secretary the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit preached for the first time in that role in the chapel. The service welcomed him to his new role and also welcomed in the New Year as many staff were back in the office for the first time today following Western and Eastern Christmas. "In the name of Jesus may the old year be over. In the name of Jesus may the New Year begin."
Tveit encouraged us to "let [the New Year] begin in the name of Jesus, the beloved. In this name we can have courage to start again ...
The time of Epiphany helps us to see how the mystery of goodness and the movement of love come to us in Jesus. It does so in the baptism of Jesus, as the first transformative sign of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus."

As often happens with sermons my attention got taken by one small detail, the shift from "you are my son" in Psalm 2, a Psalm said for and over kings and the powerful, to the words that come from the highest heaven at Christ's baptism "You are my Son, the beloved". God's son, the beloved, not a temporal ruler. This beloved one transforms the world through a different kind of power meaning we can all be beloved daughters and sons of God.

You can find the full text of the sermon here and the full service here.

There was a moving moment at the end of the intercessions when my colleague Theodore Gill departed somewhat from the written form of the prayers and prayed for each of the directors and general secretaries of the various organizations using their first names.

After the blessing in Norwegian and some singing we had a more lighthearted moment giving the new GS some gifts: a large card saying Welcome - Velkommen signed by many of us with the words welcome in our own languages; an icon from Romania depicting the baptism of Christ in the Jordan; and as Olav and his wife Anna have just moved to Geneva something to make their household truly Swiss a "caquelon à fondue" with some ready grated fondue mixture.
Then we moved into the lobby for coffee and Galette des rois and got to know our new boss in a more relaxed way.