One last thing….
Before a Cathedral full of representatives of churches, chaplaincies, schools and retirement villages, Dr Peter Frederick Jensen urged Sydney diocese to keep the cross as ‘the passionate heart’ of its message as he was farewelled after 12 years as Archbishop of Sydney on Friday 14th June.
Taking 1 Corinthians 1 as his text, the Archbishop spoke of the big questions of human life, What? How? Who? Why?
“The Christian message connects all four questions together in a partnership which gives honour to their integrity and yields delight in this world, hope for the next, and meaning in both.”
Dr Jensen, a former principal of Moore Theological College said scientists had enquired into the first two questions “as one reads history that there is some reason why modern science was born at a time when the Bible was rediscovered”.
The Biblical message “that there was one great sovereign will in the universe and that this one was also our loving heavenly Father, helped cleanse the world of magic and pave the way for the fruitful what and how questions” Dr Jensen said.
“And the reason why people believed there is a sovereign God who is also surprisingly our Father was that they believed that Jesus Christ has died for them on the cross, assuring them of salvation and the love of God and making them confident to study the world in its own terms, able to explore the what and the how in a new way”.
His last words were aimed at the “thousands of men and women who make up the churches in our Diocese, the great organisations and institutions and particularly the clergy and Christian workers and our central task in this age is to serve God by making him known”.
Dr Jensen’s first plea was to trust ‘in Christ crucified alone’. “The world is always looking for human and divine celebrities, for gods suitable to its own desires. For our part we are always tempted to impress the world and to gain the world's good opinion”
But, Dr Jensen said, ‘we can never graduate beyond the cross of Christ’ because ‘the divine substitution is the basis for our fellowship, the motive for our worship and the power which transforms lives’.
The Archbishop’s second charge was ‘as you live, so preach. Preach Christ crucified’. He warned “Woe betide us if we so glorify religious experience or intellectual attainment and abandon the wisdom of God. Woe betide us if the message of the cross is simply one of the list of things we talk but not the passionate heart of our message”.
This warning, he said, was for the diocese, and the denomination.
“If we depart as Anglicans from this old, old story, we may continue for a while as a religious institution in Australia, but we will do nothing for our nation except condemn it to further confusion and despair”
“The cross of Christ is the key to answering all our questions - the what and the how as well as the why and the who and the when and the where.”
The Diocesan ‘Deep Impact’ rally at Homebush in 2001 saw a new Archbishop hit the front page of the newspapers by rapping in dark glasses with Colin Buchanan, and so the singer was there at the end, making a surprise appearance after the farewell service.
He said the Archbishop’s words at the Katoomba Easter Convention this year had inspired him to write a new song and he proceeded to lead the congregation in its debut performance.
In a service live-streamed on the Internet (watch recording here) and with the governor Professor Marie Bashir and the premier Barry O’Farrell sitting in the front row, a series of speeches followed by friends and colleagues.
Professor Bashir paid tribute to the couple’s ‘dedication and loving support to countless individuals and families of our city and state and far beyond, living out the ideals and blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ”.
Christine Jensen was thanked especially for her work with clergy wives and the Mother’s Union. Mrs Sarah Condie of the women’s ministry committee spoke of her ‘lasting legacy of wisdom’.
She was presented with a painting of Bishopscourt, her home for the past 12 years. Calling their time in leadership an ‘adventure’, Mrs Jensen recalled meetings with women and families at Moore College and all over the diocese.
“It certainly hasn’t been all one way as there’s been blessing and encouragement as we’ve met” Mrs Jensen said. “I’ve never seen as it as something I had to do, or a role to fulfil but actually a friendship in Christ to be nurtured”.
National and international links
Speaking for the national church, the former Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne, Dr Peter Adam, jokingly spoke of the Archbishop’s ‘legendary charm’ which he said came from a ‘heart and life of love’.
Dr Adam said “In a selfish and self-centred age God has given you and Christine a great capacity for love”.
Bishop Martyn Minns, the deputy general secretary of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, saluted Dr Jensen as ‘a faithful soldier of the Lord”.
“Peter knows that it is a global battle and a deadly serious one” Bishop Minns said. “Peter understands that this battle is not about straightening out the church... it’s a battle for the souls of every man, woman and child in every place.”
Clergy and Lay
On behalf of the clergy, Canon Bruce Morrison of St John’s Cathedral Parramatta, thanked Dr Jensen for his ministry of leadership ‘without fail you always had something worthwhile to say’ and personally to clergy and their families ‘your humility and your approachability has been a mark of this episcopate’.
Referring to his public role “Wherever you have appeared on the media, no matter how hostile the interview or the audience, we have always been proud to say ‘That’s our archbishop’” Canon Morrison said.
Dr Robert Tong AM, spoke on behalf of the laity of the diocese. Dr Tong said he had met Christine Jensen at kindergarten and Peter Jensen at primary school.
The Archbishop, he said, ‘embodied the character and theology of the diocese’ and that his ‘mission-mindedness’ has been an inspiration to all.
“Many in Sydney, the rest of Australia and many parts of the world will testify to your personal ministry where you pray with them, you pastor them and you encourage them in gospel ministry. You have taken every opportunity to speak the truth in love whether to cab drivers or Prime Ministers, whether to theological students or to Archbishops of Canterbury”.
In a wide-ranging response, Dr Jensen struggled to contain his emotions as he referred obliquely to a series of meetings with sexual abuse victims who he called “some of the most courageous and extraordinary people in the world’. “I was privileged to listen to their stories and they have been my teachers and you know who you are” he said.
The Archbishop said his greatest role had been as ‘husband to Christine’.
He described being involved in the ten year diocesan mission as an ‘absolute privilege’ and urged all churches to continue to reaching out to the new arrivals in Australia. He said the Sydney of his youth had been ‘mainly anglo-saxon’.
“What a city it is now with the treasures of the world in it, in the form of the people who have come here” the Archbishop said. "If we do not reach out to all the strangers and all the newcomers then we will not be worthy of the gospel of jesus and not be doing what he calls upon us to do.”
Photos: Ramon Williams, Worldwide Photos