Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shadow & Light

This past week-end, along with everything else, brought two particular experiences- each with their own insights, both of which speak to the current process going on in our Communion.

First the painful shadow: At a wonderful meeting of caring spirit folk, committed to our vocation as an inclusive Communion, I once again heard a sister indulge in what can be called nothing short of a 'rant' against the current Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria- referring to him by family name only, and inviting him to 'clear out' so others could get on with the real business of the church.
To say this saddened me would be an understatement, and when I tried reminding her that this individual is not only a fellow Anglican but a priest and Primate in the church.... well let's just say I got nowhere.

It was obviously neither the time nor place to share with her my understanding of the Church's vocation to a non-dualistic inclusiveness, unconditionally based on God's living engagement with humanity. Likewise, I couldn't really fault her as she hadn't been fortunate enough to hear dear +Gene Robinson preach Christ so powerfully at that First International LGBT Human Rights Conference here in Montreal last July. I've written on that incredible day before, so sufficient to declare with hopeful love, whatever else he is, Archbishop Peter Akinola is my brother in faith and life- even if this might be the only thing we have in common.

Love you ++Peter, but even more importantly you and I both know Christ loves us both- unconditionally, and that this same love is the only real chance we have of getting through this current rough patch as a family.

And as for that sister, she's family too- maybe the three of us should spend some time together?

But the week-end held its own radiance too- and the particular incident which comes to mind in this context actually preceeded the above. A celibate lesbian sister, currently ordained in the Zen priesthood was in town over night, and as in the past, she came early Saturday morning to do her morning sit at my tiny house.

Afterwards, over tea I was sharing some of what had been going on in the past weeks and my understanding of the 'bigger picture' of what God is really working in our communion at this time.
Right in the middle of sharing my hurt over some of the flack ++Katherine has been taking over her calling us to 'fast for a season' I had to stop..... another one of those light bulb moments, which only confirmed the understand I've shared earlier in my post 'What if....'

I now believe that what ++Katherine was really doing by signing the comunique of Tanzania was really a great act of faith in Christ's care of His Church, but equally in her Episcopalian brothers and sisters. If she had acted otherwise, the resulting break in the Communion would have accomplished nothing other than her own effective crucifixion and an end to the whole process currently going on. Then, as when she called for a fast, I believe ++Katherine was creating space for discussion and dialogue which at times might exhaust or discourage us, but which is nonetheless living proof that the Anglican Communion is indeed alive and engaged in the business of working out an authentic, engaged life of faith.

If the 'process' had been stopped by a break at Tanzania, neither Christ nor we, His church, would have been allowed the time & space for this current leg of our journey of faith, and the world would never have got to witness just what a wondrous diversity of Anglicans there are, and how deeply we care about authenticaly living our baptismal vows.

And what about all the equally dear brothers and sisters who disagree with ++Katherine? What about dear +Gene's Word of Hope? Well they're right too!

+Gene, Susan+ and all the radiant LGBT brothers and sisters who have joined their voices in this process are as essential, are blessing and as blessed as is ++Katherine in all of this.....because, and this is the bottom line.... OUR GOD'S PASSIONATE LOVE FOR GOD'S OWN CREATION IS GREATER THAN DUALISTIC OR CONDITIONAL THINKING, Greater than all the hurt and ugliness carried out in God's name. Greater than all the noisy fear. Greater than all the anger, rage and spiritual violence.... And when all this noise, confusion and recrimination is over, that same unconditional love and passionate concern will still endure.

God will still be God, to quote +Katherine; loving us, to quote one dear and very blessed brother 'beyond our wildest imagining!' Amen.

...And there's a footnote to the wonderful Saturday morning spent with Gwen. The day after she got back to N.Y.C. she had coffee with a non-practitioner friend, and was sharing some of her visit with him. Turns out he had a lot of pain from his Roman Catholic upbringing, and the internalized homophobia drummed into him in Christ's name. His name's Terry, and he ended up calling me- on Gwen's cell phone- to ask me what the fuck I was doing 'wasting my time on the church. They'll only hurt you again,' he promised me more than once.

Not this time, I told him- with real joy. This is the Anglican Church- the one which has put its very life on the line to find out Christ's true teaching in this matter... And I told him of so many brothers and sisters who have found their voices in this exercise of faith, and who are speaking so wondrously from that same tried & lived LGBT faith. I told him of last July 27th, of the conference, and of that extraordinary evening of radiant grace- Montreal's First OUTMass.

I held the phone as Terry wept... and when he hung up, overcame by those same tears.

And later that evening when he phoned me back I told him of 'Integrity'... and somewhere in NYC this week a man named Terry has called on the Anglican Church for the first time in his life. And any day now he'll meeting wondrous brothers and sisters he never knew he had.

Praise God!

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