One Church, Two Minds

June 21, 2006

Today we will get (maybe) a non-binding resolution from the combined House of Bishops and Deputies the will give us a read on the intent and meaning of the intent of their actions toward Windsor and the Communion.

In reading the Episcopal News Service's story on the combined session, one quote seems to stand out:  "One church with two minds."

How true.

I have been so thankful for this convention, though.  That the Spirit has prevailed on so many groundbreaking issues and moved us forward.  We have a woman primate!!  And coming in we weren't (at least I wasn't) even focused on such a monumental event.  We have turned down the resolutions that move us backwards, putting gays and lesbians in the back of the church again, asking us to bear the burden of discrimination for the sake of Anglican Communion.  We have expressed a need for interdependence on the rest of the Communion, and a willingness to work with the rest of the communion towards a covenant that more clearly defines the limits and requirements of the Communal relationship.  Whew.  Those folks have been busy.  And that's just the Windsor stuff.

Isn't it interesting that at the very same time the Holy Spirit was moving us forward, the Presbyeterian Church (USA) essentially voted to allow their parishes to ordain gays and lesbians as well.  Hallelujah!  She's been busy, that Spirit.  And I love her.  The growing number of churches who see the revelation of the Spirit, Scripture, Tradition, and Reason in the manner that we do should give the orthodox who argue that we are "alone" in our interpretation some pause.  We may be towards the front of the line, but that doesn't mean that we are "wrong."  Only that we are listening the closest to what we are being asked to do.

It is important, though, to keep in mind that we are of two minds.  I have been so torn about this lately.  I have been exasperated, as I've mentioned several times.  Why let a minority keep us from listening?  Why keep this debate going so that we can't get on with the work of Christ?

I usually think I have a pretty good reputation as being pretty compassionate for those who disagree with me.  Lately that compassion has been running thin.  I've been praying about it.  This morning, two things struck me in the Daily Office.

One, the old testament reading of Eldad and Medad- it struck me how interesting this was because while they were running around prophesying, the people got all crazy.  They were worried that they were doing something they shouldn't just because it was a new direction, it was different from what they had known.  Moses response?  Get over it.  Would that everybody would be so open to new directions and listening to God such as them.  Hmmm.  Parallel to today?

Second was the Gospel for today.  The reading was the one about "cut off your arm if you need to because its better to have one arm then let it bring you down" stuff. Well, that's certainly how I've been feeling.  Let's cut off that arm, pluck out that eye, and get on with it.

If we were in any other relationship in our lives, would we work on it for some reasonable amount of time, come to the conclusion that the difference was irreconcilable, and decide that the other person wasn't contributing positively in our lives?  At some point for our own health and most likely that of the other, we have to decide to go separate ways.  I think that is what the gospel passage is about.

But in my heart I have a problem with extending that to whole groups of people.  It is hard for me to say "you aren't needed."  I can say it out of anger or exasperation, as I have been here for several days.  As I said in one comment on this site- "I'm tired of the Scriptural debate.  I keep getting told that I'm not upholding Scripture or Tradition.  That isn't true.  I have a different view of Scripture and Tradition then you.  That is a big difference and it is a small mind that cannot see the difference."

Those are strong words for me.  I say them not in anger or judgement, but exasperation.  I do believe there are multiple points of view.  We have to believe that multiple points of view are ok – we have to believe that on both sides – in order to move forward without severing any limbs.

Diversity is a gift from God.  We all have different personalities.  Some of our personalities require that our theologies give us different kinds of answers to questions than others.  That doesn't invalidate or validate the answers any more than the "other position."  God is a big God.  God created all of us.  All of these personalities.  One truth doesn't necessarily or in and of itself invalidate the other truth- even though on the surface it may appear to.  God is just that big.  Until we can come to that understanding, until we can come to that realization, we will not be able to fully live into "One church with two minds."  We will just be a bunch of voices squabbling and vying for the Archibishop of Canterbury's ear.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could live together in peace here in TEC?  If we could truly be one church with two minds?  Maybe even two church with one primate, if necessary- two alternative sets of canon, if that's what it takes.  If we can resolve the doctrinal disputes within TEC- I think that is the step forward to show our resolve to the Communion.  We need to show the world what reconciliation is.  We need to be that example.  Then we can move forward in love and in Christ to take that message to the rest of the Communion.

I hope and pray that we can accomplish it.  All we need do is listen to each other with open minds and hearts.

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2 Responses to “One Church, Two Minds”

  1. Rich Says:

    Jeff,

    I pray for your health and happiness (and that of your family, too) while in formation at seminary. God be with you.

    I’ve been tethered to this computer for a week now keeping up on the goings-on at GC and am gloriously happy with the election of +Katharine to PB. I’m sick and tired of the “gay” issues being debated. I’m with you 100% on the Church moving on to the business we’ve been given to do.

    I live in southwestern MO and there is an epidemic of meth use in this area. The Church needs to be actively helping those people who have “lost their health and freedom” from this beast. Mexican people are plentiful in the poultry processing plants in this area and are in great need of English classes, advocates to help them in rampant domestic abuse and so on. The Church must be there for them. There is a tremedous population of “non-churched” folk here who have no idea there’s more to this life than what they’ve been told. The Church needs to share the story of Jesus with them and tell them they’re loved. There are people without enough funds to feed their kids all month; the Church must feed them. The list goes on and on.

    I, for one, will continue to pray daily in thanksgiving for all God has done for us and continues to do for us. I will continue, with God’s help, incarnating in my life the theme of my adoration! I pray that our glbt community keeps on keeping on, for Christ’s sake.

    Thanks for the space to say this.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Thank you Rich.

    I’m with you, and I think there are lots who agree with inclusion but also want to move past inclusion – as one of our ministries at All Saints is called “Beyond Inclusion” – so that we can have this “issue” be a “non-issue” and just do the work we are called to do.

    j


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