February 27, 2007
A Word of Hope to my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters in Christ:From: +Gene Robinson
In light of the recent Primates Meeting and our Presiding Bishop’s communication to the Church, I received the following plea from a dear and trusted sister:
“Gene, I don’t know how you are this night, or if you can summon a word of hope, but the eyes of many LGBT people and our faithful allies are looking to you, tuning the ears of our hearts to hear where you see the hand of God in what feels like deep, deep betrayal.”
After a good number of sleepless nights and prayerful days, let me tell you where this gay man and Bishop of the Church stands, with respect to our beloved Church and our trustworthy and faithful God:
Let’s remember that, for now, nothing has changed. The Episcopal Church has been bold in its inclusion of us, “risking its life” for us in dramatic ways over these last few years. Not perfect, but bold. Just because The Episcopal Church has been invited to subvert its own polity and become a Church ruled by bishops-only, a Church that is willing to sacrifice the lives and ministries and dignity of its gay and lesbian members on the altar of unity, does not mean that we are going to choose to do it. That is yet to be determined. Let’s not abandon hope simply because that is possible. The Primates have the right to make requests of us (nevermind the threatening tone of those requests). We do not have to accede to those requests in exactly the terms in which they are made. Read the rest of this entry »
February 25, 2007
But its only about sex for those who are straight and can’t let what we do in the intimacy of our relationships go, focusing instead on doctrine that may or may not be truly focused on what they want it to be. But how realistically are they really looking at the tradition of the church?
“One-fifth of the primates, the provincial leaders, present at the Tanzania meetings refused to share in the Eucharist with American Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, claiming that to do so “would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding.”
“In refusing to share the bread and wine together in the service, those seven primates actually BROKE traditional Anglican understanding, which says that the efficacy, the effectiveness, of the sacrament does not depend on either the person administering it or the person receiving it. That understanding began with Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century and was refined by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. The former wrote that the sacrament does not depend on the righteousness of the person distributing it. The latter wrote that the sacrament “is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.”
“Which is why so many of us are confused. By refusing to take communion together, the primates overturned centuries of tradition as well as doctrine.
“Leaving many of us to ask, again: What is being defended here?”
Read the whole thing here.
February 23, 2007
As we try to catch our breath from this week’s events and our continued exclusion in the church catholic, today’s appointed Psalm was very helpful for me.
I also found great comfort in my chapel service at Seminary, where instead of Eucharist we had a Healing service.
I asked for prayers of healing for the Broken Body of Christ in the Anglican Communion. Some of the priests’ words were for ‘hearts to grow less hard.’
One of the songs playing was a favorite of mine, particularly now as we are in so much need of healing in this broken body of Christ:
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul
Sometimes I feel discouraged
And think my work’s in vain
But then the Holy Spirit
Revives my soul again
If you cannot preach like Peter
If you cannot pray like Paul
You can tell the love of Jesus
And say, “He died for all”.
February 22, 2007
I posted yesterday on my Ash Wednesday thoughts.
The theme of my Lent will be “Be still and know that I am God.”
This comes from Psalm 46. I commend it to you for reflection.
As I try to draw strength from my eternal Saviour in these days, a few thoughts from my more intense days of discernment at All Saints Pasadena under the tutilege of a wonderful priest named Zelda Kennedy have returned to me.
This may not be a path of spiritual awareness for everyone, but it is the path which calls my name; especially in these days of metanoia; of turning back to God.
There is not much I can control, but I can submit.
My primary role is not to speak, but to listen.
I am not the source of change, but the instrument.
As an instrument, I must pay heed to the skilled stroke of my master’s hand, hoping only that I may give the results he desires and knowing that he will not push me beyond the limits of my abilities.
I am the clay in the hands of a master potter; my shape will be as beautiful as my ability to allow myself to be molded by her will.
For these things to happen, trust is required.
I must trust in the Lord my God.
I can not submit if I do not trust; if I do not fully surrender.
I can not hear if I do not trust that there is something worthy of listening.
I can not be the instrument nor the clay if I am afraid of the shape or the method of the results that will follow.
Trust is required.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
February 22, 2007
A sampling of responses that may bring some hope to us as we reflect on recent happenings. Note that more can be found on Integrity’s new blog, Walking With Integrity.
I already posted the response from the Bishop of California, but here it is again. An excerpt:
Gay and lesbian people who come to the Church seeking the blessing of the Church for their unions are people seeking to lead holy lives, exactly like heterosexual couples. The Church must respond to gay and lesbian people seeking the blessing of counseling, community support, prayer, and sacrament in the same way it does to heterosexual couples.
Here is the response from the Dean and President of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. Here is an excerpt:
Enough is enough. It is time to make our intentions clear, come what may. I pray that you will help EDS carry that message to every corner of the Church, in humility and with an open mind, but carry it with a resolve that will not bend under pressure or falter under threats. This church is either truly open to all, or it is closed to the Spirit. We either stand for what we know is just and embrace our GLBT members, or we stand aside as justice is denied. There is no easy way out of this choice. There is only a gospel way forward. This school intends to walk forward and we are prepared for the fact that many may not want to walk with us. If the Anglican Communion must separate over this fundamental issue of human rights, then so be it. To everything there is a season. Perhaps this is the season for the growth of the gospel in truth and in love in ways that we could never have imagined.
And finally, and most meaningful to me, is the response from the rector of my parish- Ed Bacon in All Saints Pasadena.
Bacon said, “As rector, I will reject all Episcopal invitations to “fast” from doing the justice work of embodying God’s inclusive love. The fast to which Lent calls us is to foreswear acts of interpersonal and institutional bigotry and discrimination with which this communiqué is dripping.”
February 21, 2007
This post goes on a bit, without making its point very precisely. I suppose it might be called “stream of conciousness” or something.
Because following it the whole way through can leave one with the impression I have a position I don’t, let me put the short version right here up top:
In ethics class today, we talked about “Kantian ethics,” and how for Kant, if a murderer came to your door looking for someone you knew was in your house you would have to tell him he was inside, because it is never ok to lie. What the murderer does with the information is his responsibility, and you cannot predict the outcome of the situation.
It seems to me like the ethics of staying unified in order to preserve the concern of those who come after us can learn from this ridiculous example– it supposes a goal which we cannot prove to be true, or know if it will happen.
Keeping the church together in order to preserve the unity of the church for the future, then, is no different than telling the truth to the murderer at the door. The proper ethical thing to do in that situation is to lie in order to prevent an injustice from being done to the potential victim in your house.
Just as the proper thing to do here is to do what must be done in order to protect the injustice that is occurring in the Church. ++Katharine has already said, and repeated yesterday, that the goal is justice and inclusion for GLBT people. To do it by letting the oppressor of GLBT people in the door doesn’t work. That means we have to stand up now and let it be known that we are an inclusive church, and that GLBT people are welcome here; waiting for others in the Communion to come along won’t work.
The other major point in this point is to “be still and know that I am God.”
I went to Ash Wednesday services on campus at the seminary today.
The professor delivering the sermon today preached on the judgmental God. Not my cup of tea, this judgmental God where love takes a back seat to judgment. I’m sure there was something redemptive in there somewhere– I think he went on to talk about how important the resurrection was or something.
At any rate, I was sitting there, praying in chapel during some of the penitential silence. I think I was supposed to be ripping my heart open for God, thinking about what a horrible person I am or something. That ++Katharine asked us yesterday to fast from inclusion of GLBT people was also heavy on my heart.
And I starting praying, “God, what is the deal? This isn’t what I believe about you. I don’t believe this is what you want me to do. Haven’t we gotten past this yet? This language about being so evil and awful? We’re not perfect but I got rid of my self-loathing years ago. Isn’t there something else I can do during Lent? If I’m supposed to sit here and fast and think about how evil I am– we all are– so that somebody somewhere else can have ‘freedom’, let me know. But that’s not what I believe. I’m open to changing, but that view– this fasting so that we can be in communion– goes against everything you have taught me so far. Teach me, Lord, I am open.” Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2007
Integrity President, the Rev. Susan Russell appeared on PBS’ Newshour tonight, with Canon Kendall Harmon of TitusOneNine.
Click here for audio.
Click here for transcript.
And, Integrity’s Director of Communication John Gibson is interviewed in this local spot on WABC New York.
Not least, there is hopeful news. At least one bishop has already given us some promise that we will not be left behind. Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California has given us this message:
I am writing in response to the Communique coming out of the primates meeting in Tanzania. While many are reacting to the words of the Communique, I would like to respond from an awareness of the foundation of the day-to-day ongoing commitment of Christians to the gospel of Jesus. As bishop to the Diocese of California, I make the following affirmations:
- The inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the full life of the Church is a matter of justice: as we are all part of the world, and the kindom of God is like a net laid over that same world. All on the earth are connected by this net, whether perceived or not. Actions of justice and injustice reverberate throughout the whole, promoting either integrity, remembering, and shalom, or diabolic isolation.
- Understood as expressed above, our task in the Church is not actually to include or exclude anyone, but to show forth an intrinsic co-inherence that simply is, created and sustained by God.
- Gay and lesbian people who come to the Church seeking the blessing of the Church for their unions are people seeking to lead holy lives, exactly like heterosexual couples. The Church must respond to gay and lesbian people seeking the blessing of counseling, community support, prayer, and sacrament in the same way it does to heterosexual couples. Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2007
I received an email from Soulforce today, describing some actions they are taking to hold Christian leaders accountable when their ethics do not conform to Christian standards.
From their news release:
“At approximately 1:30 p.m. on February 19, 2007, Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp of Blaine, Wash., were arrested and removed from Focus on the Family headquarters in police custody. The couple entered the building earlier in the day and refused to leave until the organization’s founder, James Dobson, takes a step toward reconciliation with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities by ceasing his misleading statements about research on lesbian and gay parents.
“They have been charged with trespassing and have not yet been released.
“‘I am here today because I believed Dr. Dobson’s teachings for many years, and it almost led to my suicide. My healing came from my acceptance of myself and my acceptance that God loves me exactly as I am,’ said Sapp. Sapp and Berry have toured Focus on the Family twice before to dialogue with visitors and staff about LGBT individuals and families.”
Yet another example of the direct relationship between Christian exclusion and violence– no matter how unintentional– that results from that exclusion.
If the church does not preach to us, who already have a difficult emotional and pschological struggle to claim our identity, as we claim our spiritual identity, then we suffer harm that is not easily overcome.
It is incumbent upon the church to deliver us the message that Robynne Sapp found outside of Dr. Dobson’s teachings: that God loves her as she was created– in God’s image.
February 20, 2007
The Presiding Bishop’s response to Tanzania is here.
Frankly, I don’t have much to say that is appropriate right now.
As always, my comments are mine and not sponsored nor endorsed by any organization that I am affiliated with.
The only thing I really have to say initially is that I frankly don’t appreciate being compared to a piece of meat; I think a more appropriate metaphor would have been in order, Lent or not.
This rings all too familiar to the “conjoined twins” analogy she used when slamming B033 down our throats at General Convention, a resolution which many dioceses have scrambled now to repent of. ++Katherine herself has said that we have moved forward from that position as a church. I guess moving forward was not in the forward direction I thought it was.
Again from ++Katherine, there was no indication of the need for the communion to value differences- only to somehow “resolve” them. She did not discuss that those in the communion who don’t value differences are having an impact on those of us who do value differences– but that it is their lack of valuing our differences which has a direct impact on our life; not the other way around. Our elections and consecration to the episcopate, our blessing of same-sex unions, does not– in any direct way– affect their lives– yet we must fast? To try and enforce doctrine across culture without recognizing the unique relationship between the culture and the gospel is to go back to a place we passed years ago– it is to believe that universal inculturation of secular life is required for inculturation of gospel life– that we must have a uniform culture to share the gospel. And somehow out of all this we are the ones who are insensitive if we don’t participate in this fast, if we elect instead to move forward with our lives, cherishing the relationships that we find in our authenticty, the images of God who we believe ourselves to be?
Katharine, you can do better.
We can do better.
I hope we will.