Community HandsI’ve been really interested to watch the behavior of the progressives and the conservatives in the Episcopal Church (TEC) over the past few years.

Actually, not just in the Episcopal Church, but in the entire Anglican Communion.

First, when the conservatives didn’t get what they wanted in TEC, they threatened to leave.  They said they weren’t really leaving, but in fact were just standing up for what they believed because TEC had “left them.”

Then, a few years later, after the Province of Nigeria didn’t like the way things might work out, they changed their constitution and canons so that they no longer centered around alignment with the See of Canterbury but instead with the “historic Scriptural tradition” or somesuch nonsense (I say nonsense because tradition according to who; whose interpretation of Scripture, etc.).  In other words, they felt like things weren’t going their way, and they decided to prepare to “opt-out” of the Communion.

Now, here we are after General Convention, and the See of Canterbury has taken a very disturbing position about needing to take a process for finding justice more seriously than justice itself- about being more important to ensure that we don’t alienate anyone in the search for justice (except for those who may be oppressed by the injustice we are trying to correct)- and as a result, the folks on the left (my side of the aisle, incidentally) have started rumblings of breaking from the See of Canterbury and walking on their own (since Archbishop Rowan Williams can’t seem to pull his head out of another part of his body long enough to develop a backbone to hold it high and lead instead of capitulate). Read the rest of this entry »

Who is entitled?

June 28, 2006

The Daily OfficeI just love the Daily Office.

The Gospel for today is Matt 20:1-16, the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.

It’s such a great story.  Here we have the “old faithful” who come to work in the morning, thinking at the end of the day that somehow they, because they met their master earlier, because they worked longer, because… whatever… are entitled to more than those who didn’t get the privilege of being invited into service until later on.  “Oh no” they say, “Master you can’t give them what you’re giving us– we’ve been here longer.  We know this field.  We’ve worked it all day long.  We’ve put more into it, we know how to get more out of it then these newcomers you’ve brought in here at the end of the day.”

What is the master’s response?  “Get over yourself.”  “There is plenty to go around and you are getting what I promised you– why are you so concerned about what I also promise the others?”  “The last is first and the first is last.”

Hmmm.  I always do come to the same conclusion as my brothers and sisters on the orthodox side- that is that we do definitely interpret the bible differently.  I read here a definitely inclusionary message of love, acceptance– a message that God’s love and grace is big- bigger even than we’d like it to be.

I read here that even when we feel like we are entitled to more of God’s grace than others, God won’t hear of it.  That God does not say “I will pay you more and the other less” but instead that God says “I will pay you all the same.”  That we are all to be paid the same– all.

What a hard message to hear.  God’s love is bigger than we would like. Read the rest of this entry »

Faith and the Law

June 27, 2006

Gutenberg BibleI especially enjoyed the Epistle for today’s Daily Office.  In talking about the law, Paul recounts nicely Abraham’s journey of faith by reminding us that Abraham first discovered his faith, and them discovered the law.

He did not discover his faith through the law, but instead discovered the law through faith.

If only we could remember that today.

Instead we have so many people that are intent on trying to discover faith through the law.  As Paul reminds us, that is just backward.  First we must find our path, we must trust as Abraham trusted.  Then we will begin to understand the law.  It is not through application of the law alone and in isolation that we find God.  God is not the law.  The law does not exist to serve itself.  The law is not the path to salvation; that is idolatry.  But how many times do we hear preachers, priests, and ministers preaching on the need for adherence to some kind of strict moral law?  The need to refrain from “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” so to speak.

That’s the wrong approach.  You can’t start there.  That is like trying to cure alcoholism by taking the liquor out of the alcoholics house and not giving him any treatment for the underlying disease.  He will just go to the liquor store as soon as you’ve left and buy more.  You need to put him in a treatment program– maybe more than once– allow him to find his own path, and then he will be on the road to recovery. Read the rest of this entry »

Saying Goodbye…

June 26, 2006

Well, I had my going away parties.  We had one for the kids on Saturday afternoon- complete with a bouncer and cake, of course- and one for the grown-ups that night.  They were both great.  The kids party felt like a going away party because we probably won't see most of them again, but most of the folks from the adult party we saw again Sunday morning at church.  So it was "goodbye" Saturday night and "hello" Sunday morning.

The most difficult part was Sunday morning.  Because the kids will be at their other dads' house next weekend, this was their last week at All Saints.  We had adult baptisms yesterday, and all the kids were, as usual, up front to watch.  I watch Brian as he watched the sacrament intensely, wondering if he remembered his own baptism right there in the very same spot.  I thought of this wonderful place and what a wonderful starting place it is for their journey.  In my witness for stewardship last week, I explained that I largely started attending church again, especially All Saints, because of the kids.  When I saw All Saints children's choir- the diverse, multi-colored faces- I knew this was a place I wanted my kids to be.  They were included in communion.  I remember feeling "left-out" as a child each time the communion sacraments would be passed over my head (I was raised in a tradition where we couldn't partake until we were confirmed).  My kids won't ever remember a time when they didn't have communion.  This is an inclusive church.

We made our rounds, said our goodbye's to our Sunday School teachers, and especially to the child care workers who are, fortunately for me, available with 24 hours notice to watch the kids for any committee meetings, small groups, or whatever.  They've gotten to know the kids well!  It was nice to be able to see them.

It's finally starting to sink in.  I get to start something new, but it isn't without leaving something behind.  The words of a seminarian from visitors weekend keep haunting me:  "In order for me to make my journey through seminary, I know that a part of me has to die in order for another part of me to have new life."  I don't think the All Saints part of me has to die, but I do know that in order for me to grow and get something new and wonderful I have to leave something wonderful behind.  Maybe I'll be back someday.  I know I will at least visit.  And, I know that the future for me will be wonderful.  And, I know that a wonderful future doesn't mean that I can't grieve for what I'm leaving either.

So I'll grieve, and be excited for the future, and pack frantically all at once.  And two weeks from now I'll be on the road to Austin!  I am excited about it.  Or I will be if I can ever get all the packing done…

The Joy of Jumpers

June 24, 2006

I was working late, late into the night (ok, early into the morning- about 4:00am) on a new project in response to the GC.  I've heard everyone loud and clear that there is a lot of hurt, sadness, anger, and grief over the actions of the GC.  I talked to Susan and Louise yesterday and agreed on a way to try and constructively direct that energy towards a positive output.  More on that later – hopefully we'll roll it out tomorrow.  The point is, I'm damn tired.

I got up this morning at 6:30.  Don't you just hate it when you went to bed late and then you wake up at the "normal" time?  It was really hard to go back to sleep.  I did manage it, though, and I woke up to the sound of my six-year-old son taking a shower, with great initiative, by himself, before anyone else was awake around 8:00 or so.  Thinking about how wonderful it must be to be six again, I was trying to go back to sleep when the doorbell rang.  Crap.  This is the day of my big party-a-thon.  We've got a going away party for the kids at 3:00 for two hours, followed by a "grown-up" party for my friends and some of their kids at 7:00.  The doorbell was the bouncer for the kids arriving… at 8:00 in the morning, of course.  Wearing only my underwear, I ran downstairs putting on clothes one step at a time, wondering if they would leave my jumper without payment since they only take cash and I had none.

"It was a late night," I told them.  "I don't have any cash."

 "Aaaah.  I see."  Well, not that kind of late night.  "No problem."  Whew. Read the rest of this entry »

Standing up for freedom

June 23, 2006

One of the comments I made over at Fr. Jake Stops the World yesterday was that I'm not really sure that blogging does much good.  That seems really obvious to me right now, when after Wednesday's events the blog debates aren't across the divide, but within the same side of it.  I can see that blogging only really contributes to polarization.  After Wednesday within the gay community we just started fighting amongst ourselves.  Going back into the same familiar blog pattern of constructing and deconstructing arguments, point and counterpoint, we started bickering.  With ourselves!  Very stupid.  We all want the same things.  Blogging hasn't been building up community- it has been breaking it down in the past days.

That isn't true completely, of course.  Since I administer so many of these stupid things I can see the stats, and I know that a lot more people just read them than actually post on them.  That's particularly true of this one, for some reason (why don't you people ever comment here, anyway?  Give a guy some props. :))  Only about 1-2% of hits on my blog post– more on some of the other blogs I run and less on others.

So maybe you folks are just absorbing, forming your thoughts, trying to find inspiration, meaning, hope, and guidance.

AND – the whole point/counterpoint thing for me doesn't put me in a very relational place.  I realize that because I've been doing this for the past two weeks (I'm the chair of a sub-committee at All Saints Pasadena responsible for the use of technology in Communications– you might call it the Chair of Blogging and Web Sites), I've been glued and stuck in a position of blogging.  That has put me in a very non-relational place to respond to everything from convention.

With each passing day I have gotten a little more space to breathe.

And, I get a little less pragmatic about the results.  A little more disappointed.  Not less hopeful for the future, but more disappointed that Griswold didn't head this off sooner.

I don't know if he just thought that the Houses intuitively understood that the moratoriums were necessary and that they would have sailed through.  I don't know if he just panicked at the end.  I don't know if he got an 11th hour call from Lambeth saying "What the hell are you letting them do?"  I just know that the convention was going fine until his last minute engineering.

It seems to me like there should have been, right up front, at the beginning of the convention, an open and honest debate about our place in the communion.  Do we have a place here?  Can we stay at the table in a communion that won't allow us the freedom to follow the Spirit as we are called?  What sacrifices are we willing to make if we decide we are to stay?  At whose expense, and are those people willing martyrs or are we sacrificing them without their consent? Read the rest of this entry »

You know, I've been thinking as this day has progressed that maybe this is about expectations, as I have been truly flabergasted by the response to yesterday- and to the criticism I've received from my unwillingness to get miffed, hurt, dejected, or whatever, like everybody else.

I had low expectations for this convention.

Maybe everybody else thought that we would get everything we asked for these past two weeks.

I'm in business.  I guess I've just been through too many negotiations– I'm just too pragmatic– to believe that things turn out in an "all or none" scenario.

I never expected that, so I wasn't surprised when we didn't "get it all."

My expectations were surpassed – we got more than I expected.

It appears lots of other people's expectations didn't even come close.  I get that.  That hurts.

And what I have also learned from it is that I have to allow my cheery optimism- my hope for the future- to be restrained in the wake of the grief of others.

When I'm out running my own parish, I have made a mental note that there is a time for all things- and it isn't appropriate to start rallying the troops again right after the storm.  They need time to recover.  And I get that now.  I think in seminary they call this "formation for ministry"…

Would that I had gotten it yesterday, before you guys had ripped me a new one.  Jees.