One two buckle my shoe
Three, four, knock at the door
Five, six, pick up sticks
Seven, eight, lay them straight
Nine, ten, a big fat hen.
So in the last two days we passed D025, having to do with returning to the Constitution and Canons to guide bishops and standing committees in how they might or might not wish to vote for consent. The C&C is quite clear: citizen bishops -elect are expected to be, as are all persons who are candidates for ordination, wholesome examples to the people of God. D025 tells the truth: we know gay and lesbian people who are wholesome examples and order well the lives of their families and communities.
One, Two, buckle my shoe:
Today (Wednesday) the House of Bishops passed C056 by a vote of 104 to 30. Here is what that resolution said:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological, and liturgical resources and report to the 77th General Convention;
and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further
Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.
Tomorrow the House of Deputies will hopefully get this and pass it.
If so, "Three, Four, knock at the door."
We are indeed knocking on a new door and very very tentatively peeking in to see what is in the room just beyond. We know full well that in the Great Mansion there are many rooms (if there were not would He have told us?) But not all rooms have a view, or adequate indoor plumbing, and who knows if the room we are entering opens out into a larger salon where the mansion dwellers gather for afternoon conversation and a common meal?
The general assessment of what D025 means took several forms today: (i) these are the facts 'on the ground' and we love the Anglican Communion, our gay and lesbian companions, and oh yes, the moratorium (if there ever was one) is now a matter of individual conscience and not church wide pressure. (ii) Sure these are the facts on the ground and yes we do love the Anglican Communion but we are not sure that other Churches love us and oh yes, the moratorium is as much in place as it ever was as a call to restraint. (iii) D025 is a fudge and was not particularly honest, just compromising.
All in all I side with the first view. And I believe it is an important stepping stone on the way to stating with greater courage that we are inclusive of gay and lesbian people. We have no business in being overly proud of our inclusivity, but we might be beginning to scrape by. It's a start. So, time to put on those shoes and walk. Later we can run, and later crawl.
Tomorrow the House of Deputies gets their turn to open the door just a bit more. We will walk that resolution C056 into the house and just maybe we will come out with something we can all work with.
If that happens, sure as the sunrise the day after tomorrow the howl will rise from those who have decided that that's the last straw, the Communion is broken, the end of all things Anglican has come, and it's all those damn Episcopalians' fault.
Well, they will in all likelihood be surprised. From the pruning of the budget, from the trauma of compromise, from the exhaustion of the Deputies and Bishops, from the battles of the day and with the small triumphs of friendships renewed and even handshakes across the distance of the great divide, we will be delivered. There are many rooms in the mansion, and we Episcopalians will have one.