Monday, July 21, 2008

Bp. Roskam on Lambeth

Read what Bishop Roskam is thinking about as Lambeth begins!

Lambeth Blog #3

July 21, 2008

Because of time constraints and computer availability I am not able to blog every day. Normally, I will only blog for the current day and just skip or summarize briefly those days when I have had no access. Except for today, when I am going to tell you about yesterday.

I would be remiss if I did not try to capture the beauty and grandeur of Sunday's service at Canterbury Cathedral. While in 1998, we were only permitted to wear cassock, this time we were invited to turn out in full choir dress, scarlet rochet (floor length red vest) and white chimere, which one might describe as a long, full, floor length shirt with full sleeves, gathered at the pleated cuff by scarlet bands. Over that most wore a black tippett (scarf) or festal stole. The few bishops that did not wear rochet and chimere nevertheless wore colorful cassocks of different shades of purple and crimson, or light colored tropical vestments.

One of the most moving parts of the service was actually the procession in, which took close to half an hour, as we walked up the aisle two by two to the accompaniment of glorious music. The colorful lines of bishops split and then rejoined in order to circumnavigate the free standing altar at the top of the nave. Then we continued through a narrow opening into the great chancel, where the second altar stood and also the ancient stone seat or cathedra of the Archbishop of Canterbury. (I urge you to google some of the pictures available at various sites on the web.) [Editor's note - click here] The bishops and our ecumenical partners filled every corner of the chancel. The music was diverse as well as traditional and often accompanied by wonderful drumming. One of the high points within the service was the gospel procession in which Melanesian dancers in their native dress danced up the aisle with a small canoe like boat on their shoulders. The golden gospel book was place in the boat and then danced down the aisle in the midst of the people for the reading of the Gospel, the same one read in all our churches, in which Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares.

Duleep De Chickera,the bishop of Colomba in Sri Lanka and the chair of the planning team preached the sermon. He shocked the gathered community with his forthrightness when he said as part of his exhortation to be an inclusive church, "There is space equally for anyone regardless of color, ability, gender or sexual orientation." The air was electric. ( If you would like to hear the sermon, just google Bishop De Chickera's name and you will find it easily both in taped and text form.) [Editor's note - click here] Bishop De Chickera ministers in a very challenging and insecure part of this Communion. His courage and inclusiveness of spirit was particularly appreciated by those of us who found it hard to sing the concluding hymn "All Are Welcome" when one of our number does not appear to be.

Nevertheless, I was deeply moved by the service and immensely grateful for the experience. It is a privilege to be here and to be a part of the history of Anglican bishops dating back to Augustine of Canterbury in the fourth century. We have a rich history and tradition that I greatly treasure. I was aware during the service that this will be my last Lambeth, as I will be retired in ten years and only active bishops are invited to atttend, and so I was intent on savoring every moment.
After the service I did some interviews with the BBC and the AP, went for a quick bite with my husband Phil, Bishop Sisk and Archdeacon Kendall and then headed for St. Stephen's Meadow for an outdoor eucharist sponsored by Inclusive Church (UK) and Integrity (US) and attended by about 200 people, including Bishop Gene Robinson and about 20 of the bishops from the morning service.. We got back to the campus just in time for the opening session of the conference at 4 p.m. I will say more about that tomorrow and about the format we are using now that the conference has begun in earnest.

Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes.



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