Sometimes a Chair is just a chair.
How did I miss it? The Celebration on Saturday in Virginia is about the installation of Bishop Minns by Archbishop Akinola and the board of trustees of CANA. At least that is what is true on the surface. But we Anglicans are an Incarnational people. We ought to know better. This is about the incarnation of an idea: a different sort of Anglican Presence in America.
Most of the attention is given to the Archbishop coming to Virginia and to the matter of acting contrary to ancient canon (true), Anglican practice (true), the Windsor admonitions (true), and even contrary to the hoped for outcomes of various post-Windsor communiques. Some of the attention is given to Bishop Minns, whose ministry at Truro has been celebrated and whose new ministry will be celebrated by some on Saturday.
But at the center of it all is a stall. Not the stall in which it is reported our Savior was born, but a chair, in which Bishop Minns will be told to sit.
So time to pay attention!
What will happen on Saturday is not just about the installation of BISHOP MINNS. What will happen on Saturday is not just about ARCHBISHOP AKINOLA acting across boundaries and other ecclesastical no-no's.
What wil happen on Saturday is that a CHAIR - an outward and visible sign - will have someone seated in it (INSTALLED) and the CHAIR belongs to some body, in this case the Church of Nigeria. And most importantly, that CHAIR will be in the United States, a geographical territory in which The Episcopal Church has jurisdiction.
In putting his chair in this new place, namely the Diocese of Virginia and in the Province of The Episcopal Church, Archbishop Akinola is not simply installing a bishop, he is inaugurating a diocese or a proto-diocese, or a missionary diocese. He is, in other words, staking a claim on the soil of The Episcopal Church, putting his chair there, and welcoming someone (Bishop Minns) to sit there.
Saturday is the inauguration of a new diocese-like thing, and by all accounts a province in waiting.
There is no remedy except to get rid of the chair. And since it is a mostly a symbolic chair the way to rid ourselves of it is to laugh it out of its power. The best thing we could do on Saturday is to hold the chair in derision. Not Archbishop Akinola (may God bless him), not Bishop Minns (may God bless him) but the chair.
When the Archbishop tries to in-stall Bishop Minns, pull the chair out from under him. Say to all who ask, "there is no chair, and there is no place to put it." When they say, "we saw the chair and we saw the Archbishop seat Bishop Minns in it," we can say this:
There was the outward and visible sign - but it is only that. There is no inward and spiritual grace there. The chair, like the cigar, is sometimes only a chair.