Lambeth Lamb-bake

5 08 2008

I have only been an Episcopalian for a little less than 5 years now, so this is the first time I’ve observed from afar what went on at the Lambeth Conference which just ended this past weekend. I give thanks to everyone who took time to report back their perspectives of what was going on, from blogging bishops in the US, Canada, the UK, Brazil, and everyone who was doing the work of advancing the Kingdom on the fringes and in the marketplace, especially to +Gene Robinson, Susan Russell+, Elizabeth Kaeton+, and Katie Sherrod.

All in all, despite all the money that was spent and the disappointments that came out of the last few days of the conference, I believe that it was A Good Thing, and an Important Thing to have. Looking at things from the perspective of the bishops, it seems that a lot of good (and at times difficult! ) conversations were had and new relationships forged, and people have begun to appreciate others’ viewpoints whereas before they most likely only read about them via newsfeeds, blogs and other media. You can read all you want, but nothing replaces a face – to – face encounter.

As I have commented on other folks blogs, the non-invitation of +Gene Robinson and his presence on the fringes of the conference made him a bigger rock star than the British Press is making +Rowan Williams out to be, and +Gene’s witness is much more powerful and persuasive on the outside than it would have been inside. From reading +Gene’s blog and from reading about other accounts from the marketplace, it seems that the Lord was definitely at work in the hearts and minds of people. Our faith is an Incarnational one, one that is lived out and given flesh, not one that is read about, so I am all in favour of people getting together in the flesh as faithful followers of Christ.

I recently had a conversation via email with a conservative priest in the Diocese of Central Florida, and what was great about it was that we did not agree on too much, and we will probably won’t in the near future, but we saw in each other a faithfulness in our commitment to Christ and to the Church, and therefore, a mutual respect. I think that conversation is a glimpse into what happened in many cases at Lambeth.

All of that being said, I do have to say that while it is not entirely surprising that the reflections document contained calls for moratoria on partnered gay bishops and blessings of unions, it is disheartening. It is discouraging all the more so because in spite of our HUGE presence in the marketplace the GLBT witness is still one that is talked about, and not spoken with. The Covenant, it seems, is going forward and +Rowan’s newly found ecclesial capital has given it the steam to continue down the road we’re on. I do find it VERY discouraging that the people who are asked to be making sacrifices are the one people that are NOT being spoken to face to face and are not being allowed that Incarnational encounter.

What is really, really sad is that issues of sexuality and Covenants (while important!) will still be on the Communions front burners for quite some time in the foreseeable future and will take away our energy from doing missional work and spreading the Good News which sets us all free.

But, as I mentioned to the Integrity NYC folks back in April when Susan+ came to visit us, regardless of what happened at Lambeth, regardless at what happens at the next ad nauseum series of meetings and councils, I still take the long view. This battle has already been won, our job is to proclaim that Good News until it is recognized. The battle has been won because it’s already been fought for us.

You know, I think it says quite a lot about the faithfulness and courage of GLBT people to continue to want to remain part of The Body of Christ. I mean, that has to account for something, right?

In any event, while all the bishops are finishing their journeys home and the hand wringing and volleys of communiques gear up to begin once again, the Reverend boy will still be going about the business of the Kingdom in his own small way. My parish, Immaculate Contraption, will still be saying Morning Prayer 3 out of 4 Sundays at 11am. And the Kingdom will still be growing and breaking into God’s world. I have to say that taking the long view gives you a bit of perspective because. Not the least of which is being a GREAT tonic for anxiety, and gives you the strength and wherewithall to keep going because you know and trust that Jesus is running this show. .. It’s his Church, after all.

You know … Jesus, that guy that keeps showing up when i decide to take some time off.

OH, and PS — I discovered yesterday that +Rowan and I have the same birthday, 14 June, and that +R was born the same year as my father … Lord Have Mercy!

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10 responses

5 08 2008
FranIAm

You are one very wise man, Reverend Boy. What a thoughtful, insightful and thought provoking post.

I think almost everyone that I know in the TEC world reads you already, but I may have to link to this, just in case. It is REALLY good.

(For a non Episcopalian I am always having something to say about all this- no?! At the Kingdom, no definitions or denominations. A big table where we all sit to eat and be in common union.)

5 08 2008
scott

Thanks for posting your thoughts, RB. i’ve been experiencing more disquiet than usual lately, partly fueled by reading about the recent Lambeth Conference. The nagging feeling that we humans will never move beyond our apparent need to marginalize others, and will continue to refuse to see Christ in our neighbors has been sadly overwhelming at times. Your written voice reminding me of the long view and the importance of real face-to-face incarnational encounters, reminding me that the battle’s already been won for all of us and that LGBT folks are and remain members of the Body of Christ really helps me to lift my eyes to the larger picture. Thanks again!

5 08 2008
episcopalifem

Thank you RevBoy.

I love these words:This battle has already been won, our job is to proclaim that Good News until it is recognized. The battle has been won because it’s already been fought for us.

That’s it. Game over.

5 08 2008
pookyshoehorn

Well I for one am glad FranIAm linked you, because I have not visited you blog before. But I will definitely be checking back often. Great post!

5 08 2008
Boaz

Excellent post, Rev Boy! A very good summary of what most thoughtful people think about the subject but with a little something extra, to remind those of us that are a bit jaded what its really all about.

5 08 2008
RFSJ

RB –

I was disappointed too. I blogged about the 2nd Prez Address, as you know, and I thought he nailed it. I haven’t read the Third Address yet, but the blog traffic indicates that ++Rowan retreated to an institutional stance rather than an incarnational one. That’s too bad. the relationships that were fostered by the indaba groups will be hard-pressed to thrive in that sort of environment. I think what +Gene said on his video blog may well be true – we might have to decide that to be true to ourselves we just aren’t going to go along with the moratoria.

On the flip side, I want to see if and how I can adpot indaba-style talking into my parish!

RFSJ

6 08 2008
That Kaeton Woman, TELP

Thanks for this, my dear. Well done.

6 08 2008
Doorman-Priest

I suspect that there will be an appropriate pause and then hostilities will recommence.

The key will be who starts it all off again.

6 08 2008
Grandmère Mimi

You know, I think it says quite a lot about the faithfulness and courage of GLBT people to continue to want to remain part of The Body of Christ. I mean, that has to account for something, right?

RB, you ARE part of the Body of Christ. No one can take your birthright away from you. You are baptized into the Body. The real faithfulness and courage of LGBT folks is your decision to remain part of the Episcopal Church, the church that I love and that I hope that you remain part of and I remain part of, although, at times, it seems so far from the Gospel model and, yes, so very dysfunctional. We need you. We need your gifts to the church.

Lovely post, mon cher.

7 08 2008
Anthony

The fact that the conference did not create one resolution after another is a good thing. They did not meet like a governing body, this is also a good thing; there were many good things. Had +Gene been invited like anyone else, the message the world needed to hear would not have gotten out; not being invited was also a good thing.

My personal take is, the process of creating a covenant will take so long, that by the time the “chess heads” get around to even thinking about signing it, these bishops will have retired.

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