Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Thought for Deep Lent

The unfolding saga in the Diocese of South Carolina, one of the latest flash points of controversy in the Episcopal Church, generated a lot of comment at Episcopal Cafe this day in an article posted by Andrew Gerns. Proposed resolutions coming up at their specially postponed diocesan convention ring simultaneously of both the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries -- the former with its dueling claims of sovereignty and power, the latter smacking of secessionist fervor that helped lead to the American Civil War. The icing may be longstanding disputes within The Episcopal Church over the return of Catholic piety and liturgical practices. All are age-old battles that don't seem to fully die with time -- elephants in our shared living rooms that, if not cast under the light of self-awareness, tend to run the show when tensions rise.

In the midst of such complex historical and cultural roots fueling an ongoing fit of crisis, there's a lot of traffic and numerous accusations crossing the Mason-Dixon line from both sides these days. Amidst all the suspicions and unwillingness to wade deep into the messy business of relationships--which is what obedience is really all about, including our much vaunted doctrine and discipline as a Church--I am left to wonder how easily we all like to wear our grievances like a cloak, even when the Prince of Peace calls us to set aside such burdens for the sake of the Gospel.

So which, then, is a better Lenten discipline:

Lines in the sand or setting aside grievances in the quest of deeper relationship?

3 comments:

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Well said. Would that more could model the behavior of the Bishop of Liverpool!

Reverend Ref + said...

My two congregations are in the midst of our own Great Turmoil -- whether or not to merge.

A merger will result in a single building, single congregation, with a unified presence and mission in our valley.

A vote for the status quo will result in people getting to keep their lovely building while hoping for an influx of people and money that will never happen leading to the [probable] demise of both congregations.

Lines in the sand or deeper relationships, indeed.

R said...

Dear Ref+,

My prayers are with you and the communities you serve.

It's not simply an accident of language, it seems to me that missions and parishes gravitate quite naturally towards being "parochial" -- that is, they succumb easily to the temptation of insularity. The Spirit challenges this constantly through both shocks from the wider world and prophetic voices in our midst. That this witness is always in peril is a given. Small comfort that it is just as visible in the gospels as it is in our own time!

May you walk the way of the cross with diligence and hope this Lent. . .