Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Home Again, Home Again ...
After an all-too-brief sojourn just south of sunny Santa Barbara (see awesome sunset above) we returned home to a pile of wedding gifts to open, a slew of thank you notes to write, an email inbox full of emails to digest and/or delete and a voice mailbox full of calls to return to reporters looking for comment on the slate of candidates for bishop in the Diocese of California. Oh ... and a vestry retreat this weekend and a sermon to write for Sunday ...
Never a dull moment at work in the fields of the Lord!
The wedding itself was an extrordinarily grace, love and good-fortune filled day that made all the manic detail filled days leading up to it worth every bit of the work it took to get there. The music was glorious and the flowers were fabulous as friends, family and parish members filled the church on a day that had threatened rain but turned unexpectedly sunny and breezy. Perhaps the most moving moment was when presider Ed Bacon invited the whole congregation to come forward and lay hands on Louise and me after the exchange of vows for the blessing of the covenant.
That "outward and visible sign" of a community's blessing is always a powerful symbolic act but for me, knowing that the congregation included my 80 year old mother and 24 year old soldier son along with Louise's family & friends and diocesan & national clergy colleagues made it all the more an amazing grace being poured out on Louise and me as we begin this next part of our journey together. (A copy of the liturgy is now online on the Integrity website.) It truly was a day that exceeded all our expectations and one we will remember for the rest of our lives with great joy and gratitude for all the blessings.
And then back home to the good news of the excellent and diverse slate of candidates offered to the Diocese of California for the election of their new bishop -- scheduled for May 6th. The press is, of course, making much about the fact that there are gay and lesbian candidates included in the slate. And I am trying to make much about the fact that the slate is a true reflection of the diversity of not only the Diocese of California but of the Episcopal Church USA: gay and straight, black and white, male and female, east coast, west coast and red-states-in-between.
I believe it is an extraordinary sign of good health for the church-at-large that in spite of the saber rattling of the radical religous right the mainstream of the Episcopal Church is moving ahead with mission and ministry -- listening to the Holy Spirit as it lives ever more fully into its commitment to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ as it searches for the best bishop for the Diocese of California.
As for the "schism" issue, let me restate what I wrote about schism in June 2003 ... just days after Gene Robinson's election as Bishop of New Hampshire:
"What If They Gave A Schism And Nobody Came"
What it takes to create schism is for someone to leave – and I am sick unto death with the unity of this church being placed on the shoulders of those of us who have committed to stay.
When are we going to hold accountable those who threaten to leave? When will we name the actions of those who have conspired with factions of the larger Anglican communion to actively oppress and marginalize its GLBT members with what it is: fomenting schism – creating conflict – sacrificing the unity of the church to their own agenda of power, control and heterosexism?
If schism happens – and I not convinced that it will – the blame will lie not with Claiming the Blessing, the Diocese of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson or the countless GLBT Christians living out their faith journeys in the Episcopal Church. It will lie firmly at the feet of those whose will to power is greater than their willingness to embrace the other, whose commitment to crisis is greater than their faith in the Gospel and whose singular obsession with things sexual has blinded them to the Spirit’s revelation via things incarnational.
The cornerstone of the Claiming the Blessing initiative has been this citation from the second chapter of Genesis: “I will bless you so that you will be a blessing.” The blessing of life-long, committed relationships of people who love each other and love Jesus will not split this church – they will bless this church. The election of one of the finest priests in the communion to take his place in the House of Bishops will not split this church – it will bless this church.
Committed to stay in conversation with each other we will weather this storm as we have weathered the others that doomsayers have predicted would destroy this great church of ours – and we can get back to the business of being a blessing to those who so desperately need the Good News of God in Christ we have to offer.
And now back to mulling the Transfiguration Texts ...