Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Strongly-worded Letter about General Convention and Love

Why the rush to kill the Episcopal Church?  I mean, really, Wall Street Journal, are we that much of a blight on the face of faith communities? (If you haven't read the article published, do a quick search or better yet, read Scott Gunn's reply).  I expect a few of the regulars to condemn the actions of General Convention on same-sex blessing.  I get that there are those within our pews who do not believe that gay and lesbian Christians should have the same equality as heterosexual Christians because of how they choose to interpret the Bible, even though we long-ago started understanding that straight men could be bishops even though they are divorced and wear clothing of mixed blend and eat bacon (sorry, just had to get that out of my system).

I get that having a female Presiding Bishop who is poised and frighteningly intelligent scares some men.  I understand that we are not willing to admit we live in a country and a church that is still sexist and racist and homophobic, so we create all sorts of logical-sounding sentences and statements to qualify our prejudices so they sound less-prejudicial and more, well, justifiable.

I get that the foundation of the Gospel is not a place of comfort for any of us.  Loving each other is a wonderful mantra to put on a bumper sticker, but living it daily?  Well, that's another challenge.

Maybe that's why some are in a rush to proclaim the demise of the Episcopal Church.  Because we are trying to love each other.  We are trying to recognize that for centuries, the love of God has been limited to a particular set of human beings, usually the Caucasian male property-holder.  Then we started listening to the voices of those who had been outcast.  You remember them, right?  The outcasts, the ones with whom Jesus broke bread.  The ones that were in Jesus' posse? Yep, we started listening to them.  And that always upsets the proverbial apple cart.

When those of us in power begin listening to the outcasts, we generally do a few things.  First we ignore them.  But the Holy Spirit gives them courage to keep talking, and She also cleans out some of our ears so we can listen.  And we listen, and we then justify our actions.

"You see, we understand that you might want to vote in the Church, but the Church councils have ALWAYS been made up of wealthy men, so we can't change them now."

"I understand you feel called to be a priest, but how will you celebrate at the altar as a woman?"

"Yes, you want to have your relationship blessed, but marriage has ALWAYS looked like this, so sorry."

And the Holy Spirit, as She likes to do, holds our foolish prejudice in our face until we realize that God is a God who ALWAYS loves, but manages to express that love in more ways than there are stars in the universe.  God never stops creating, something we occasionally remember. And we begin to feel more than we think.

That's the real truth about love - it's a feeling.  When we feel what feeling outcast feels like, how being told you are not enough as God created you feels like, then we start acting in love.  And acting in love is not a particularly neat and tidy process.  We just start walking, and know that God will open the path step by step.  We know that you will stumble, get sidetracked and lost, and God will find us and get us back on the road less travelled.

And so we did, again, at General Convention, act in love, in many ways.  We listened to each other.  Some needed to go home and feel their hurt, and that's okay.  We will leave the light on for them.  Other acts of love, like revisioning what this Church will look like as a structure in the future, are still a bit ephemeral, but we will get there.  Wandering in the desert is a long-standing Godly act.

So, to the WSJ and every other person or group that is joyfully proclaiming the crucifixion and death of the Episcopal Church, I say this:  We are Christians who love, and we believe in resurrection.  Death is only part of the journey, and love always wins.

Join us on a Sunday.  Outcasts are especially welcomed.    

10 comments:

Fr Chris Arnold said...

George Conger, certainly not one to embrace every action of General Convention, also critiqued the WSJ article:
http://www.getreligion.org/2012/07/rum-sodomy-and-the-cash-the-episcopal-church/

teawithseanandmarie said...

Tears in my eyes. Words that speak to me, and a voice that is needed in our world.

Margaret Albert said...

Words that speak to me as well. Anyone who says they haven't been marginalized at some time or another needs to think again. This is absolutely beautiful. Thanks so much.

Laura said...

I think it would be cool for the Episcopal church and the United Church of Christ to have some "conversations."

John Learned said...

After reading all the "noise" about GC and the vicious comments on the WSJ "article", this post was just what I needed! Thank you, thank you for reminding me that the only thing that really matters is His Love :-)

monkignat said...

Excellent!!!

A. Morgan Hickenlooper said...

Amen. Amen. Amen!

Kate said...

Completely agree! Proud to be an Episcopalian these days.

Kimberly Collins said...

This was most welcome after reading in the "Comments" section for the WSJ opinion piece that I'm not an actual, real Christian, simply because I'm not a right-wing conservative. Didn't know there was that litmus test. I started to get awfully depressed reading all that hate speech. But then read Scott Gunn's piece (I'm a huge fan of _Forward Movement_, btw, and read it every day with my Lectionary readings) and this piece, and felt a little better. Not that the Gospel is about feeling better. It's not. It's about feeling uncomfortable, as you so rightly say. But as you also say, it's NOT about hate. It's about LOVE.

Pastor Deb said...

Brilliant ladies! But then knowing you, I'd expect nothing less. What a well-reasoned and generous piece. You are so very, very right about the Gospel making us uncomfortable. Kudos to you and blessings on your ministry!