Saturday, December 29, 2007

Confidence & harm

Call me a naive Canadian, but in the last several days as so many of us have wept. grieved & prayed over the recent outrage at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Atwater CA, I’ve become quite concerned that we brothers and sisters of Christ’s fullest blessing not unwitingly harm ourselves, each other, or the Church of Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the most unfortunate instance of this was insistence of a couple of 'our' blogs on using a seriously unflattering photo of John-David Schofield in their reporting. Most of you will know which unfortunate picture I’m referring to.

I’m not disputing the picture was taken. I’m not disputing the man was there, holding that piece of paper. But unfortunately in the current context, this photograph objectifies a man, who, whatever else is still our brother in Christ, and who was created in the image and likeness of God. I might even suggest that use of this photo is personally invasive, as it hauls a brother’s personal issues into the public forum of faith in a context which has nothing to do with what’s currently going on.

I mean, I haven’t heard of anyone using this photo offering to meet with John-David to help and counsel on his personal pain.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I’ve wept and sat vigil with the people of St. Nicholas, Atwater, as so many of my radiant brothers and sisters have, and yes, for a moment, when reading a report I wailed ‘why the isn’t anyone doing something?

And on the next breath I regained my senses…
I might even suggest that what we have here is a perfect example of my sense of what’s truly going on in the Church right now– in the bigger picture of living process- that of Christ leading His Church out of centuries of frightened dualistic thinking.

No one needs to be objectified

No one needs to be called names

So long as we remember that what’s going on here is process, a dance of change & transformation, and we (humanity) are only one of the dancing partners- thank goodness & THANK GOD!

This is still the Church of Jesus Christ, Son of the True & Living God

And to momentarily resort to Holy Scriptures; it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God

so of course nothing’s going to be easy or run smoothly

we’re all being call forth out of fear,

we’re all being called into a larger, clearer, living experience of God’s passionate love and unconditional blessing… ‘a love beyond our wildest imagining’ to quote one blessed brother yet again.

we’ve all got healing and growth- and Christ’s necessary grace- to engage in here.

No more guys in black hats and white hats- this is not an old western movie. This is Christ Jesus, working through all of us to move us – the Church- beyond the fearful need to objectify, to damn, to conquer, to destroy- all verbs too commonly found in Christian history.

Working to move us into becoming the most radiant, unconditional embodiment of God’s love humanity has ever known.

An embodiment of Christ’s love ‘beyond our wildest imagining’ (and you all know where I got that from).

There is no way, the words or actions of John-David Schofield at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Atwater, CA can be justified, excused or explained as anything other than what is so obvious to us. But in the end, his true accountability for everything, like ours, is to the true & living God.

And in the meantime our responsibility has to be to not lose sight of our vocations as baptized Christians, as a people of hope, working with Christ Jesus for the renewal of His Church.

Yes, ache & get angry, but we can’t let that pain and anger stop us from being there for the people of St. Nicholas, and all the other parishes being manhandled in a similar manner.

Yes, ache & get angry, but we can’t let that pain and anger stop us from being there to listen to the hurt, confusion and disillusionment of our fellow Christians over the antics of certain ‘professional ‘ religious.

Yes, ache and get angry but we can't let otrage be our only witness or presence in our collective vocation of radiant embodiment.

Yes, ache and get angry, it can't stop there, or we’ll never see past the fear, to glimpse the active, working presence of Christ, who has promised to never abandon his flock.

And perhaps nothing has embodied that fearful thinking more than the rare anger or concern I’ve read about ++Katherine’s presence in all of this.

Where is she? What’s she doing? Essentially is what more than one voice has been asking,

It may just be my personal opinion, but as much as I honor and admire this particular sister-in-faith, a white cowboy hat might look slightly ridiculous on herright now, and riding into Atwater, both guns blazing would hardly do honor to the office of Presiding Bishop or the Church.

The bottom line is that ++Katherine, like the rest of us, is accountable to Canon Law, which has been prayerfully writ over time, in a conscious effort to know the will of the Holy Spirit, alive and at work in the Anglican Communion- exactly where we all find ourselves right now.

And that Canon Law provides our secessionist brothers a breathing spell of a specific duration in which they’re given a chance to reconsider and renounce their earlier actions.

And I would suggest that by respecting this requirement ++Katherine is showing herself to be a living embodiment of the best of Anglican tradition and practice.

Hurt, confused, angry, worried for the future of the Anglican Communion probably describes all of us in the fellowship of full inclusion right now. But it’s essential that none of us unwittingly play into the secessionist agenda by re-acting to whatever they do, or by adopting their frightened dualistic ideology and language.

One of the great blessings of my sitting practice is the understanding that to re-act is to always respond from a position of weakness or defeat to another’s action.

Bottom line: Jesus Christ is to be found in the thick of this work of transformation- this breaking open and transformation of all of our understandings and experience of the living Christ in our midst.

And my sense is equally that as far as Canon Law allows that’s also where +Katherine is aiming for. She did send her legal and clerical representatives to witness the events of Advent IV at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church. She has put the other secessionist bishops on notice, and never was our sister’s radiant grace more evident than when she side-stepped the antics of +Peter et al at the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament in Tanzania.

As scary, confusing and uncertain as it may feel at times, none of us is alone in this.
We are the Body of Christ, and as a living body, I would suggest that if we have faith, the only appropriate image for the current process is ‘growing pains.’

Growing pains and a glorious calling forth out of fear and fearful thought, speech and action.

Growing pains in a vocation of radiant transformation.

Growing pains which as any parent will tell us are a sign of health, a sign of life, and for me nothing stands proof of this more radiantly than all the wondrous brothers and sisters in faith who have stepped up to claim the promises of their baptismal vows, found their voices and bear witness to their radiant lives on faith- whether in the pew or here on the internet…. which includes each one of you m'dears.


God’s Greatest Blessing, to God’s Greatest Glory- always & unconditionally

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