Joking apart, it is briefly amusing that we can bet on the appointment at any bookie's in the country, and it is contrary to our Anglican understanding of episcopacy that we should put all the weight of future hope or distress about the Anglican Communion on the shoulders of the new archbishop. He is not going to make the difference, though he could be influential. The Cambridge historian EH Carr in 'What is History' years ago reminded us of the heresy of assuming that history is about a few important people.
++Rowan (Williams, not Atkinson) was right to observe that we need to replace him with two people. Not that he's arrogant, but the issues at stake for the Church of England are not the same as the issues at stake in the Anglican Communion. For what it's worth, I might as well join the fray, praying that it won't decline into affray when the announcement is finally made.
The Anglican Communion has over my lifetime turned from a family of churches into an unwieldy monster of an institution which has become far too self-important. To be Anglican is to be a Christian in a particular way, which I need not here define. The irony of the various Anglican schisms around the world is that if I find myself meeting parties or churches on either side of the great disruption, I feel at home, regardless of their institutional status. Hear me well, I do not find myself agreeing with everyone. How could I? But I do recognize that they are all family, and our quarrels, disputes and downright bitterness are the internecine wars of a family.
So there is a significant part of me that is not worried whether the Anglican Communion falls apart or not. It has become a little too dependent on its organizational centre. We need instead to fall back on the centre of our own provisional status as church and our own human sinfulness. We also need Jesus Christ far more than we need a solution-solving communion-redeeming Primate. I also think that this is the moment for the leader of the communion to be chosen globally, from among the Primates, by the Primates... After all, we are not papalists. And though we come much closer to being conciliarists in our philosophy, we know that councils may err. Really we do!
So do pray for the new appointment. We need a wise, godly, thoughtful man. But above all, pray for the renewal and reformation of Anglican Christianity. Where it has grown cold, may the Holy Spirit warm it with fire Where it has strayed, may our Saviour recover it. Where it has lost faith, may the Father discipline and challenge it. And in all this, pray that we won't miss the beam in our own eye when we are too quick to jump to judgements about 'all those other wretches out there'.