in the place of Christ - neighbours and strangers

The assembly routine was disrupted this morning with the arrival of Lula, the President of Brazil. More on Lula at

My two highlights of the day -

A children's dance group from Brasil who beat drums, sang and clapped while two at a time, members of the group moved into the circle to dance an acrobatic form of shadow kick boxing and cartwheels. The group were from a social project working on education for justice, dialogue and solidarity in Rio Grande - the state Porto Alegre is in.

The second highlight was the plenary on Christian Identity in plural contexts. The plenary included two contrasting and complimentary presentations by Rowan Williams and a woman Baptist theologian from Myamar (formally Burma) - Dr Anna May Chain. The Archbishop reminded us that Christians are called to stand in the place of Christ and to see the world from such a viewpoint. He cautioned agains seeing the world as a territory to be divided up by the different religions. No Christian, he said, can have a map of the boundaries of the place of Christ. The place of Christ, rather is the place from which Christians can work to transform the world, keeping faithful to God and also to the other, the stranger.

In response to the Archbishop, Dr Anna told her story of surviving religious conflict in Burma through the efforts of her Muslim, Buddhist and Catholic neighbours. She went to to describe movingly the death of one of her group of friends - 2 Christian, 1 Muslim, 2 Buddhist - women she had known from school, and how each member of the group had responded. She talked of the value the Buddhist women place on each day because life is limited and precious. She went on to describe how for her as Christian, it would be unbearable, she said, not to continue to walk and talk together with her friends even beyond death.

You can read her full speech at:

Sorry for spelling - the typewriter is tough going! more tomorrow.