Sunday, April 16, 2006

The "Both/And" of Easter

Smack in between the devastation of Good Friday and the Glory of Easter sits Holy Saturday -- a day I have come to think of as the Feast of Both/And. With the cries of "Crucify him" and the sound of nails in a cross and bells tolling in grief still echoing in our ears we focus on the flowers and the candles, the water and the incense, the music and the mystery that make up our Easter celebration.

The great "both/ands" of Easter: grief leads to joy, death leads to life, without Good Friday there would be no Easter Sunday: Alleluia, Alleluia.

I am struck by how closely the both/and-ness of Holy Saturday connects to the both/and-ness we experience as LGBT people in the Episcopal Church. In 1976 this church told us we were entitled to "full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church" AND in 2006 continues to treat our vocations and relationships as bargaining chips in the game of global Anglican politics.

In the past 30 years we have taken many steps forward toward making that resolution a reality AND there are miles to go before we rest. It feels to me as I write on this Holy Saturday as though we, the LGBT baptized, are being treated by the institutional church as "not ready for prime time Christians": they may not be crucifying us anymore AND we're not good enough for Easter. And that's not good enough.

The both/and nature of our life in the Episcopal Church is recognizing that the recent Report from the Special Commission was not the "u-turn" on LGBT inclusion widely predicted by the conservative pundits AND its resolutions did not live up to the full and equal claim the church has promised.

The both/and nature of the political process in the Episcopal Church is that we will continue to work within the legislative process to support the resolutions that work toward achieving that goal AND we will work to amend or defeat those that do not.

And the both/and nature of our commitment as Anglicans to the worldwide communion is that we will stay in conversation and communion with those with whom we disagree AND we will not allow blame for any break in that communion to be laid at the feet of those of us who are threatening to stay.

In these coming days and weeks leading to Columbus and General Convention 2006 we will hear plenty of "either/or" rhetoric from the other side of the aisle -- from what I'm calling the "communion at any price" folks who have clearly decidedthat our exclusion from the Body of Christ is a price they are willing to pay. I am convinced that this church is smarter and more faithful than that -- that the threats of blackmail, schism and presentments will, in the end, backfire on those launching them as grenades into our common discourse and that we will emerge on the other side of this convention having taken steps forward rather than steps back. AND it will continue to be a "both/and."

We may not in our lifetimes experience a church healed of its homophobia OR of the racism or sexism that continue to challenge us AND we would not be where we are today if the faithful who went before us had not been willing to step out in faith -- to speak up with courage -- to labor on in hope.

One of those faithful saints who labored long and hard in the fields of justice went to greater glory this past week: William Sloan Coffin. I invite you to join me as I claim these words of his as my own as we journey with hope into the days and weeks ahead. "Hope is a state of mind independent of the state of the world. So if your heart is full of hope you can be persistent even when you cannot be optimistic. You can keep the faith despite the evidence, knowing that only in so doing has the evidence any chance of changing. So while I'm not always optimistic I'm always very hopeful."*

The evidence of the cross was that death had the last word.
The evidence of the empty tomb is that life has triumphed over death.
The Lord is Risen.
The Lord is Risen, indeed.
Alleluia, Alleluia.
Happy Easter!

*(1994 NPR interview quoted on Margot Adler's obituary on NPR, April 12, 2006)

No comments: