Monday, March 19, 2007

Well Worth Noting

The conversation about the Episcopal Church's future vis-a-vis the Anglican Communion was already well under way, and now it continues as the House of Bishops has been meeting in Camp Allen.

Ian T. Douglas presented on the MDG's: God's Mission and the Millennium Development Goals
I deliberately post this link first, if only to remind myself that this is where our mission should be. I had the privilege yesterday of sitting in on Church of Our Saviour's Outreach Team meeting after worship -- a packed room with some of our best and brightest leadership discussing our work as a community in Christ to raise support and resources to assuage hunger and educational needs locally (yes, we have those in Southern Marin, too!) The MDG's and the Episcopal Church's resolution to hold them as focus has moved the conversation at Church of Our Saviour to a new place, as far as our outreach efforts go. . .

Also today, two reflections, well worth taking the time to read, were offered to the House of Bishops and then made available online, by two Episcopalians who worked with the design committee on the proposed Anglican Covenant:

The first by Ephraim Radner, Steps towards the Covenant
The second by Katherine Grieb, Interpreting the Proposed Anglican Covenant through the Communiqué

I have not read the two completely yet, and may comment more at length later, but Grieb's seems especially relevant, as it takes the Primates' recent Communiqué into account.

(By the way, the papers from Epiphany West, 2007, have just been made available in PDF format. I'll be posting those tomorrow in conjunction with the reflections I posted during the conference in January.)

But for now, I find Grieb's closing paragraphs most compelling, and well worth noting:

Theologically, biblically, I think we are at Antioch with Paul, in Jerusalem with Jeremiah, and walking the way of the Cross with that mysterious Son of Man. With Paul in Antioch, we have – perhaps without adequate consultation with Jerusalem – been having table fellowship (koinonia) with Gentiles, until the men from James came to tell us that we have to stop doing it. They want a moratorium on eating with Gentiles. This presents the community with a difficult decision. Peter and Barnabas pull away from the table physically and ritually separate themselves from the Gentiles. Paul says, ''I can't do it.'' If he had not, most of us would not be here today, being Gentiles ourselves.

Jeremiah in Jerusalem before the exile told the frightened people to wake up and appreciate their situation. Their naïve belief that God would never allow the city of Jerusalem and its Temple to be taken by the Babylonians was not going to save them. They were going into exile, one way or another. They could do it the hard way or the easier way, but they were going into exile. I think the metaphor of ''exile'' captures something of the pain we can expect from being in less than full communion with the Primates, who will certainly distance themselves from us, if not in September, then later on down the line. But we might remember that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have long lived in exile and it will be a great privilege to go into exile in their company.

Finally, I think we are in the place of all potential disciples of Jesus when some Pharisees come to warn him about Herod. He will go his way today, and the next day, and today after that, healing and teaching and casting out demons, but eventually he will end up in Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who lose their lives for now on the way to Jerusalem, when things are hard and scary and it feels like death is all around, then we shouldn't be surprised later when the Son of Man says he doesn't want to be seen with us.

Where is that mysterious Son of Man hidden today? What is the cross that we are to take up? This message is especially directed to those of us who are called to ''stand with'' a rejected category of persons. Dietrich Bonfoeffer recognized the hidden Son of Man in the persecuted Jews. Abraham Heschel, who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., had eyes to see the Son of Man hidden in the rejected separate and unequal ones. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi caught a glimpse of him in the Dalit, the ''untouchables'' of India. Since we shall have to answer for these things we do on the day of judgment, it may not hurt to ask ourselves ahead of time the question Jesus asks us: What good will it do any of us, even if we gain the whole world, if we forfeit our soul, our life, our self?

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