Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Point of Personal Privilege
Yesterday, he rose on a point of personal privilege and called on his brother and sister bishops to cease and desist in the constant sniping and backstabbing that he has had to endure for nine years.
I am not there in Indianapolis, so I don't know what it was that two other members of the House of Bishops have said or done to undermine Bishop Gene's credibility this time, but I really don't have to be there because anyone who has followed this man's career, especially during these past nine years, are all too aware of how nasty and mean-spirited and downright ugly people have been. Particularly the people in the purple shirts. It is disheartening and it is a dishonor to the One whom these bishops say they serve.
Bishop Gene has had to endure more crap from all corners than anyone should ever have to take. Pointedly excluded from the decennial Lambeth Conference; daily death threats; endless interviews in which he must answer questions about the bad behavior of others toward him in the Anglican Communion rather than talk about his true passion, which is God. What's his "gay agenda?" Answer: Jesus Christ.
It is fascinating, in that incredible God way, that Bishop Gene's statement to basically, "Get off my case!" came on the same day that the House of Bishops approved resolutions to widen our welcome in the Episcopal Church to transgender people, and adopt liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions. It is the perfect display of where we are as the Episcopal Church. On the one hand, we are ready to embrace the differences in our human sexuality and see them not as divisions but more of the wondrous biodiversity of God's good creation. HOWEVER...
There always seems to be a "however." While most of the Episcopal Church is basking in the glow of the sun (or is that S-o-n), there are many more of us living in dioceses that have overcast skies and in, some cases, a forecast of endless rain. No matter what happens at the national level, there always seems to be the fine print that says, "This offer is null and void in [fill in the blank]." For those of us living in places where the sun isn't shining yet, it can be depressing to see the postcards from elsewhere with the implied message of,"Wish you were here."
In the realm of God, there is no fine print. There are no black-out dates, no exceptions, no exclusions. Christ's love for the world is for all, everyone, and given out freely with plenty to go around. It is only in the church, a human institution with human beings running it, that suddenly some travelers are left stranded at the gate. And why is that?
It is fear. Fear of the unknown, of what may or may not occur if we allow people who are living in society's margins to have a seat inside the church, inside the rail even, and give them the chance to rest and bask in God's love story and participate as active members in its telling and re-telling to the world at-large. Fear, the very thing that throughout Scripture God is saying, "do not be afraid! I am with you!" Fear, the direct opposite of faith, the roaring lion that is on the prowl ready to devour everything and anything in its path. I heard it expressed again and again when I read the testimony given on the same-sex blessing resolution. Clergy and bishops talking of their fear of what granting full membership in the Body of Christ to LGBT people will do to Christians and churches half-way around the world. Do these same bishops and clergy ask themselves about what happens when the church doesn't recognize us as fellow Christians in those same countries?
That whole argument about what is happening... and could happen to Christians... in predominantly Muslim countries is a red herring. The tension between the cousin religions has been going on for millennia, I would even argue from the moment that Abraham turned to Hagar and said, "Sorry, babe. You and Ismael have gotta go." Dangers have faced Christian minorities long before the Episcopal Church began embarking on a call to allow all of God's children access to the sacraments of the church. Seriously, folks: crack open your copies of "Holy Women, Holy Men" and read all about the various martyrs throughout our history.
I can be sensitive to the difficulties inclusion may pose for some members of the body. But I can not allow my sensitivity to their pain to become my pain as well. Because I am not in pain. I am in joy. I can not allow their fears to become my fears because I am not afraid. I have faith that God will continue to spread out a feast of Love before us every day with the open invitation to those who want to come to the table to pull up a chair and break bread and have wine and be happy.
I have had enough of the bickering, and the clouds and the rain. It is time for the sun to shine. Everywhere.