Saturday, March 17, 2012

Anglican Covenant: Cue the Fat Lady

There is a saying, "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings."  And while there are still more dioceses yet to vote in the Church of England on the Anglican Covenant, it would appear that the stoutly soprano might want to start her vocal warm-ups.

Today, three more dioceses-- Liverpool, Ely and St. Alban's-- rejected the document that had been touted as "the only way forward" in an effort to hold together the various churches and provinces that make up the Anglican Communion.  I think this statement from Bishop James Jones of Liverpool best sums up the beliefs of those of us opposed to the Covenant:
“The Church of England and the Anglican Communion have over the centuries developed a generous embrace allowing seekers to taste and see the goodness of God. Within our borders there is a generous orthodoxy. There is space for the seeker to breathe, to inquire, to ask questions, to doubt and to grope towards faith and to find God. That I believe is a space within the Body of Christ worth preserving.”

Thus, there is no need for a proposal that would dare to make members of the Communion pass litmus tests and get approval from other members of the Communion for actions that they take to best live into the Body of Christ in their own contexts lest they face sanctions and reduced roles in Communion relationships.  

Right now, the vote count in England stands at 20 Against and 12 For the Covenant.   There will be more votes coming up next weekend, but if two more vote it down, then it will have failed to garner the support it needs to move along.  And if England can't agree to it, then it would seem highly unlikely that the rest of the Communion would want to go along with it either.  And that is how it should be.  This proposal has been flawed from its inception because it presumed that we needed to "fix" something that was "broken."  Look at the history of the Anglican Communion and you will see that we have never been a monolithic, marching straight ahead kind of people.  We are autonomous, independent and never totally satisfied with each other.  But the thing that has kept us tumbling along is our willingness to keep working through our differing perspectives together.    I believe this document would truncate the struggle we are in to be the people of God we are called to be in the places where we live.  As one of the characters in my Bishop Yellow Belly series noted, "The only covenanted relationship that matters is the new covenant made by Jesus."  Amen, to that!

Go ahead, Brunhilda.  Gargle, rinse and spit.  You will be singing an aria soon! 

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