1/12/2010

Two questions for the bishop visitors to Canada.

According to the Anglican Journal, the so called pastoral visitors from the Archbishop of Canterbury, "...noted “a widespread sense of weariness with the whole business of same-sex blessings,” as well as a “palpable desire to get on with the business of mission."

Two questions:

(i) Did the visitors think that perhaps the weariness "with the whole business of same-sex blessings" might be somehow related to the very human desire not to have to do the hard work of change?

Unaccompanied by any further observation their remarks on weariness are no pastoral help at all.

They noted a "palpable desire to get on with the business of mission."

(2) Did the visitors have any sense that perhaps there might be a relation between blessing commitments by and among people and the business of mission, which seems to include restoring "all people to unity with God and each other in Christ"?

The "business" of mission is not at all limited to going somewhere else and mucking about in the name of Christ (as perhaps the pastoral visitors themselves might view their work). Mission is about unity expressed in ways that pastoral visitors for the "instrument of unity," that is the Archbishop of Canterbury can hardly match.

The hard work that has been occasioned by the hope of committed Christians that their relationships might be strengthened by blessing is itself a work of mission.

The Incarnation eventually has to be imaged with Christ having an Asian nose, or as black African, or as Navajo, or as a woman, or as Gay, because if it can't be so imaged, then it can't be imaged as inclusive of pasty-gray balding straight (although increasingly bent) guys like me.

We are restored to unity as Christ is seen by each of us in all of us, and God is all in all.

At least that's how I see it.

4 comments:

  1. This report by the ABC's Episcopal Visitors is stunning in its arrogance!

    Fr. Maxwell Smart+

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Episcopal visitors merely report their observations, which the Canadian Primate has found to be accurate enough.

    No one is here supposing that mission necessarily means going anywhere other than where we are. It is, of course, about people, not places.

    Despite being a member of a long-term permanent same-sex Christian couple whose relationship cannot (in Australia) receive the formal blessing of the Anglican church, I think the battle-weary Canadian bishops have a point.

    One does not need the church to validate personal relationships (including marriage). More serious, in Australia, is the exclusion of partnered gay people from ordination; it has been painful to have had to choose between priesthood and life partnership.

    Same-sex blessings might "go away" as an issue, if we could (a) agree on how to decide what is right and true on a matter that is not essential to the faith and the Gospel, (b) decide accordingly, and (c) all abide by the decision in good conscience. It's not possible, at least not this millenium.

    So the sooner we agree that debates about sexuality are not so important that we can't live with disagreement and difference of practice, the better it will be for ourselves and for God's service.

    Otherwise these tediously endless debates will not go away. If we cannot agree to differ on sexuality (and other things), we risk permanent distraction from the work of the Gospel and from God's presence.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brian
    "One does not need the church to validate personal relationships (including marriage)."

    Indeed not. But neither should one forbid churches or parishes who are willing to validate personal relationships to do so. Especially if the prohibition is for one group of people only and not universal, and if the underlying argument is "God doesn't accept what you're doing".

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mark,
    I think some of the weariness may not be from not wanting to do the hard work of change, but from having done the work and wanting to bring it to conclusion.

    At our (Montreal) diocesan synod in November, the bishop announced his intention to draft an authorized liturgy for blessing same sex marriages. It was met with a collective yawn. No headline in the diocesan paper (which is editorially independent and doesn't shy away from controversy), no outcry or objection on the floor of synod, no angry letters to the editor or posturing by dissident rectors. One of the most conservative priests in the diocese urged unanimous passage of a resolution condemning the Uganda legislation. Those who are going to leave have left. Some will continue to agree to disagree.

    I think the same attitude prevails in New Westminster, Niagara, Ottawa, Huron, British Columbia, Central Interior BC, and Toronto.

    The Canadian church is facing much more serious issues -- more autonomy and voice for First Nations, moving out of an established church mentality to mission in an increasingly multi-cultural and non-Christian society, aging membership. There is a sense at all levels of the church that we need to put sex behind us and address these issues.

    ReplyDelete

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