Some things work quite well in this rough and tumble Anglican world. In spite of all the struggles, there are still things to share across the various divides. It's useful to remember that when our focus is on what separates.
Before Lent the Rector of Lewes invited members of St. Peter's parish to write daily meditations for a lenten booklet. Kathryn and I both participated. It was an interesting exercise - to write a one page (or less) thought that connects with the lessons for the day - and it reminded me that this wonderful technique for sharing spiritual insight is not only for the writers of Forward Day by Day but is something we can all try our hands at doing.
I check in with The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) website every few days, looking for information related to the ongoing struggles between that church and ours, mostly represented in the leadership of the Archbishop. But for that past few weeks I have also found myself looking at the series of Easter Meditations written by various bishops. They have been a real gift. More, they are signs of a deeper fellowship than all the shouting on the surface can destroy. These writers are muttering in spiritual wonder about precisely the same things that all Christians do. Further, they are writing for the people in Nigeria. So if their meditations touch my heart, then on some strange and deep level, the people of that Church and I are closer together than we might think. This is Good News.
A week ago I asked your prayers, and made my own, on behalf of the lay vicar of the church in Baghdad who had been kidnapped and held for ransom. The Living Church reported on this, and the several days later reported on his release. Prayers and hard work and ransome lead to release. The follow-up story reported, "However, “the complexities have just begun,” Canon White wrote on April 26. He said the church was “told by the kidnappers that if [the lay pastor] returns to his house, or removes his furniture he will be killed. Sadly we know this is true, it happens so often in Iraq.”
It remind me that the wider need for prayer, work and ransom has to do with the wider war and its many complexities, and finally the greater ransom represented (often inadequately) in various ways of speaking of Jesus' self-emptying as a ransom for many. The good news in the release of the lay vicar is obvious. Better news, on reflection, is that when the complexities of life bring constant danger, enduring suffering and often inexplicable results, we already have the possibility of a freedom in Jesus Christ that makes it possible to live in the midst of death. Again, a learning for this poor writer in the unfolding of a story of struggle and release in another part of the Anglican Communion.
And then we have the strange story in which a struggle in the Diocese of Lake Malawi in which the seriously ill Canon Rodney Hunter died. Some claimed that he was poisoned by people backing the candidacy of Nicholas Henderson whose election was overturned by the Province. It is all documented in two stories by Ruth Gledhill, here and here. It appears now that because of pressure brought to bear by an Anglican group called "Anglican Information" there are serious questions raised about the initial charges and a demand for an autopsy.
How this all gets resolved is still unclear, but the good news, at least for me, is that there is an "international team of those who know and love Africa and Malawi well" that has raised these questions. While there might be reasons to question the motives of such groups at times, the overall value of people organized in their concerns for a particular country or people, who can speak from outside the gates, is immense. In the Anglican Communion there are hundreds of such groups and they help us all look at our own witness and ministry with clearer eyes. And, in some situations they help to keep us from miscarrages of justice or mercy. That may be the case here. I wait for those outside friends of The Episocpal Church who will help to give us courage to deal with our own government's imperial abuses.
So out there in Anglican-land there are meditations to read, ransoms on which to reflect, and friends to plea for us. This is a serious piece of the Good News that constitutes the Anglican Communion.
When I wonder why spend the time on keeping the fellowship of the Anglican Communion loose and free, it is for this sort of good news that comes in many, mostly small, ways. Note that none of these gifts of Good News required a bit of international Anglican machinery to produce - no curia, no covenant, no primatial anything. It requires only the openness of heart to listen to others for what God is saying through them to the churches.