I had to laugh at the report just released by the ACC and the Primates on their response to the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. With its pie charts and graphs on agreement and disagreement, the report looks like a straw poll from Iowa. And if anyone thought the Anglican Communion was leaning one way or another, what the report clarifies is that what we have before us is really a mess of opinion. . .a Windsor Mess. . . A Communion wrestling with discernment, with a few vainly hoping for autocracy or a non-existent magisterium to enforce it, and many shrugging their shoulders or delaying their response and getting on with it.
Maybe that's what we really need -- more Christians simply getting on with it. That "it" that we call the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
While the Southern Cone's telescoping arms try to take advantage of disgruntled bishops and their cadre of clergy and Bishop Duncan's "sheep," a few diocesan conventions articulate more what and whom they're against than for, and Truro and company duke it out with the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church through lawyers in the courts, the rest of us prepare for Advent and a world that was just as messy in welcoming Christ -- or not -- as ours is.
The Windsor Mess is an Anglican Mess. A mess, on this day or two after Thanksgiving in the United States, I'm thankful for, quite frankly. I would be more disturbed by a clear decision about how "we" acquiesced to a process that was inflicted more than invited, artificial more than incarnational, and more punitive than palliative. . .not to mention reconciling.
Anglicanism has never been but messy, after all.
It's clear now that the Windsor Report and Process, long may their vaunted names fade in Anglican memory, solve nothing. Nor do I believe they should. Most of the Communion remains just that, in communion -- community with all of its proverbial messiness and lack of clarity. Community and communion where disagreement with a healthy degree of mutual accountability -- not authoritarianism -- is how we seek deeper truth and are taught to refrain from assuming divine judgment that was never ours to begin with.
Because there is only one clarity for Christians, and that is the grace found in God in Christ. The rest is the sorting of the grain and the tares. And that's God's job in the end, not ours. Those who wish clearer paths and definitions are leaving. May blessings go with them. I think they will find their destinations just as confusing and murky. Clarity is an elusive idol, after all, especially when it comes to ultimate truths.
I prefer the honesty of the mess, and the love of God that breaks through it anyway, especially in the local and the tangible, where the faces are real, lives are transformed, and the experiences of God in our midst reach the very depths of the heart.
Father Jake offers his take with loads of commentary.