It's "the question of the week" because -- finally -- after planning and fundraising and organizing and praying and networking this is the week we start leaving for the 20-day Lambeth Conference of bishops of the Anglican Communion, to be held on the campus of the University of Kent in Canterbury.
The conference is designed to create "better bishops for the sake of a better church" -- at least according to this interview with Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
Hard to argue with that being a good idea -- better bishops, that is -- but it's increasingly easy to argue that schlepping them all to a 20-day conference in England is not necessarily the most cost effective way to meet that goal. Nevertheless, Lambeth 2008 is about to unfold and Integrity will be there.
- Witness to our shared history;
- Call our Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ to transcend the differences that some insist must divide us;
- Focus on the common mission and ministry that will, in the end, unite us.
It is critical that the LGBT faithful, who have seen their lives and vocations reduced to bargaining chips in a decade-long game of Anglican politics, speak out together and give voice to the hope and the faith their witness to the Anglican Communion represents.
So ... we are going to witness to the Good News of God in Christ Jesus present in our lives, our relationships and our vocations.
We are going to guarantee that, as the Bishop of New Hampshire puts it, the bishops of the communion will not "gather once again as if there are no LGBT members of this Church and as if their lives, ministries, and relationships don't matter."
And we are going because we will have the opportunity to live out these words from the Gospel According to Matthew -- words many of us heard in church as we celebrated Independence Day ... this translation from "The Message:"
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."
In his sermon yesterday at York Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury put it this way: "What would Jesus do is a good question to ask," he said. "Where would Jesus be is just as good."
And we believe where Jesus not only would be but will be with us -- in our prayers and in our witness, in our worship and in our fellowship, in our opportunities and in our challenges.
Jesus will be in the formal celebration of Eucharist in the Canterbury Cathedral on Sunday morning, July 20th. And Jesus will be in the Eucharist al fresco Integrity and Changing Attitudes will offer on Beverley Meadow that afternoon. (Everybody welcome, BTW -- nobody "banned" from this one! :)
So keep us in your prayers. Stay tuned to our Lambeth Portal for updates from the front. And remember,
No good thing will God withhold from those who walk with integrity. Psalm 84:11