Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lambeth Blog #8

Lambeth Blog #8
July 30, 2008
Sorry for the silence! It is not that there isn't much to say, but only sometimes a dearth of time in which to say it.
A quick update: Saturday the Episcopal Church was responsible for our Evensong. The Bishops and Spouses Choir provided most of the music. We were blessed to have our regular choir director Dent Davidson with us for a couple of days to get us ready and to be with us on the day. The music was lively and spirited and beautifully signed by Donna Scarfe, spouse of Alan Scarfe, the Bishop of Iowa. Michael Curry, the Bishop of North Carolina, and I read the first chapter of Genesis, as our meetings that day were devoted to the care of creation. The funny thing was that the print out of the lesson did not include the seventh day. I know it was an accident, but somehow it seemed emblematic of our schedule. So we restored the seventh day in our reading at Evensong on Saturday. Having ears to hear, Phil and I took real sabbath time on Sunday afternoon, going to the oyster festival in nearby Whitstable and then to the movies in the evening.

Last night the Archbishop of Canterbury gave an extraordinary reflection on where he thinks we are in terms of our differences. He took the part of the traditionalists first, saying what he felt traditionalists wanted others to know in terms of love of scripture, deeply held beliefs and the magnitude of the change they perceive in our actions to bless and ordain gay and lesbian people. I must admit, that I had no small trepidation when the Archbishop began to represent those of us in the church in America and in Canada, because as I have mentioned before, I hadn't felt we had been particularly well heard here even yet. My fears were unfounded. I thought he represented our position beautifully and accurately, and not just those of us who are in full support of these actions.

Two points in particular gave me great hope. The first was the phrase, that we feel traditionalists are "pouring scorn on our witness." This is the first public acknowledgment that our position is something even larger than an argument for justice, as valid as that might also be. We are witnessing to the love of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of gay and lesbian Christians both lay and ordiained. It is the same sort of witness that Peter made to the Council of Jerusalem about the full inclusion of the Gentiles in community of faith. (Acts 10 and 11) We understand that not all will agree with us, but the Archbishop has taken our witness seriously, and for that I am grateful.

The second point he made on our behalf is the solidarity of bishops in our house, including those who voted no on the consent to Gene Robinson's election. I believe that these bishops are setting an example and giving a model for the rest of the Communion about remaining in relationship despite our differences. Their commitment has gone largely unnoticed and unsung by those outside our House until now.

The Archbishop invited both sides to reflect on ways to set aside their differences and "to speak life to each other," instead of death. When he finished, the audience sat in stillness for some minutes absorbing the power of his remarks. The theme for yesterday was the Bishop as Shepherd. It was as if during his speech the Archbishop had picked up his crozier--his shepherd's crook--and walked ahead of us to lead us into more nourishing pastures.

Today's theme has been the Bishop and Scripture. It was a day full of rich sharing among people with very different approaches to the Bible. I am sure the Archbishop's remarks yesterday helped to make this sharing possible. More tomorrow...Many blessings!


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