Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just a suggestion...

Dear, dear +Rowan, you’ve got to feel for the man.

I mean, it isn’t as if he not trying, and he certainly challenges us, as he should,I suppose.

But seriously, I’m beginning to wonder if residence in Lambeth Palace might not be injurious for the health of our blessed Communion and of dear +Rowan’s efforts to play a meaningful role in the current situation.

Nothing a year-long sabbatical in a blue collar neighbourhood wouldn’t fix. Or if we’re really serious about a conscious effort to listen to my LGBT brothers and sisters of faith, how about finding the man sabbatical employment behind the bar of a LGBT establishment- collar, pectoral cross and all.

Yes, I’m still talking about the infamous Advent letter.

Not only does +Rowan persist in making the same, sad, categorical error of treating the consecration of +V. Gene Robinson and that of Martyn Minns as of the same nature and status; a re-reading of his letter this morning, saddened me greatly when I realized just how deeply entrenched +Rowan's assumptions are embedded in the monolithic thinking of the patriarchy.To say nothing of his body language in the most recent photo on-line

I’m sure it’s only an oversight on +Rowan’s part, but early on in his letter he cripples his representation by limiting the foundations of Anglican faith to only one of three traditional justifications for Anglican life and faith.

Scripture, tradition and reason +Rowan.

And this snow-bound morning here in Montreal I might be taking a slightly different view of just what Anglican tradition is, but please bare with me. Essentially, for me it looks like a continual calling forth out of fear and darkness and growth into an ever more authentic embodiment of our vocation to be the Living Body of Christ. Wether the issue was slavery, the objectification and persecution of our Jewish ‘elder brothers and sisters,’ the ownership of women and children, racism, exploitation of the earth or the civil and ecclesiastical rights of women. And of course, almost every time the Communion has been dragged, kicking and self-righteously posturing into a state of greater freedom and grace.

And the current situation is but another case in point, praise God!

Too often of late news of us Anglicans has been of 'splinters,’ ‘factions,’ ‘deadlocks,’ ‘impasse’ and ‘the rending of the Communion’. Makes good headlines, frightens and hurts a lot of the folks in the pew, and none more so than my blessed LGBT brothers and sisters of faith, but that’s not- read my lips, please- THAT’S NOT WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON HERE FOLKS!

Inspite of all the nastiness and acrimony, inspite of the purple-clad misogyny directed at our beloved sister ++Katherine, inspite of the dark threats against our radiant brother +Gene and our other LGBT clergy on the front line, inspite of all the ranting, name-calling, posturing, and yes, even inspite of the scandalous dishonouring of the Blessed Sacrament at Tanznia, we are still the Church of Jesus Christ, called and blessed to be the Living Body of Christ, here on earth in these difficult times.

To make it simple:
we are all in process- a process which in time will be proven to be one of endless, wondrous grace
we are all stumbling forward in faith, to a larger clearer understanding of God’s radically unconditional love for each and everyone of us
we are all, in varying degrees I admit, learning yet again the miracle of the Incarnation
we are all hearing Christ’s call to step beyond the enslavement of fear
we are all stumbling, blundering or prayerfully walking towards lives and understanding of God’s faithfulness where Scripture no longer has to be used as a weapon, where Communion becomes a verb rather than a measure of membership or exclusion and where faith is what we embody rather than what we use as a filter against the life God has blessed us with.

So bottom line is though there may be ‘splinters’ (ouch!) and ‘factions,’ ‘deadlocks’ and ‘impasses’ they are only illusionary because this is the Living Body of Christ we’re talking about.

LIVING i.e. ‘In process’
LIVING i.e. growing, with God's grace, in our stature as children of the Living God, and in our understanding of God’s love
LIVING i.e. does anyone remember how noisy and confusing puberty was?

And as the Living Body of Christ we have Christ’s unfailing promise to support and bless his Church, we are each the living proof of His patience, mercy and grace, and none more so than my radiant LGBT brothers and sisters of faith.

Look back for a moment on that model of Anglican tradition as I have cast it, and each time Christ has used men and women of faith, usually on the margins of established Christianity, collectively or individually to be ‘a light unto the nations’ and it would appear to be that is what He is doing with an through our radiant LGBT faith community at this time.

Each time, Christ was calling us out of fear
Each time Christ was aching to free us of the smallness of our thinking, the fearfulness of our lives.
Each time Christ was leading us into a larger understanding and engagement with life
and never more clearly than now. Praise God!

Joan Didion, in her book ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ made a powerful gift to contemporary understanding when she popularized and articulated the practice of magical thinking. And if one is honest, far too much of Christian practice has resonated with the same fearful desperation- an insult to both the True & Living God, and to the humanity we have been blessed with.

To resort to the language of the dharma for a moment, I believe that what’s really going on here is an awesome calling by Jesus Christ, radiant Son of God for Christian men and women to step beyond the shadows of dualistic thinking. The ‘yes, but’ our lives continually send back to God; the ‘yes, but’ we continually impose between ourselves and those God brings into our lives, when we use our faith or religion to objectify them to a safe distance.

I’ve been doing some work lately with two sisters on their devastating grief following the death of their doting Italian mother. One of the exercises we worked with from my years of AIDS service, has to do with ‘difference’- what difference has their mother’s death made in their lives... And what I’m suggesting here is that if we’re looking at the only big picture that really counts, the current process our Communion is undergoing isn’t really different from any of the other chapters of Anglican tradition.

Jesus Christ is still the head of this Church
and the Holy Spirit continues to challenge, bless and sustain it, and to wait for us to catch up with the radiant, vibrant truth of God’s love for all Creation.

Never more so than now, in the season of Advent, I would dare the most cynical in the Communion to spend some serious time with the awesome reality of the Incarnation.

So don’t talk to me of ‘rending’ ‘ending’ or ‘tearing’
there is no human being walking the face of this earth capable of ending what the True and Living God put into motion in the Incarnation of our sweet Lord Jesus Christ
who, as one radiant brother keeps reminding us all loves us ‘beyond our wildest imagining’

‘For God so loved to world’ pointe-finale as we say in French.

Writing this, I can’t help but be mindful and deeply grateful of the many radiant LGBT lives of faith which support and nourish my practice, and of the many courageous allies we have found in this current conversation within the Communion. Nothing moves me more easily to tears of deep and abiding gratitude than the refusal of these living prophets to resort to the name-calling, threats and posturing of those who tremble with fear at the prospect of an inclusive faith; a family which doesn’t have to exclude to include, a society and world which doesn’t have to use God’s word as a weapon.

Did I say prophetic?

Yes I did, because if one truly looks at that ‘only big picture which really counts-’ God’s redemptive love, it is so very obvious that these radiant brothers and sisters who keep witnessing, who keep acting on Christ’s promises, who keep owning their baptism, who keep turning up at the table...can there be any possible doubt of the working of the Holy Spirit through these lives who have had to come so far, and paid so dearly for their witness.

I thank God for each and every one you- living blessings that you are.

And before I resort to quoting Romans 8 again, I’ll sign off, sure in the unconditional love of Christ, a love’ beyond our wildest imagining’


for God’s greatest blessing, to God’s Greatest Glory- always & unconditionally!

PS. And brother +Rowan, let me know where you’re ‘drawing the suds’, and we’ll try to arrange a flight over, to drop by for a chat. I’ve got a whole lot of wondrous friends you might want to meet and listen to.

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