I have just finished listening to a news conference from the Lambeth Conference where the bishops are now in the difficult and sensitive process of listening and hearing each other on the issues of human sexuality. And that is human sexuality; not just homosexuality.
Observing this process so far removed from where it is happening hasn't been easy. And certainly, news that the Windsor Process and rules adopted 10 years ago that reduced LGBT Anglicans and Episcopalians to second-class status seemed to still be acceptable was extremely hurtful, and made me wonder, "Are we (gay people) again going to be sacrificed on the altar of unity of the Anglican Communion?"
But that was 48 hours ago. In this moment, I feel that no one is being sacrificed. Not the gay community. Not even the "conservative traditionalists". This, in some ways, feels like Abraham's moment with his son Isaac...where just when you think he's going to go through with plunging a knife into the kid's body to show his true love of God...God steps in and says, "Whoa, Nelly!! You don't have to do it!"
The news conference with the Archbishop Ian Ernest of Mauritius and Bishop of Colin Johnson of Toronto has given me hope. Both of them, but most especially the Archbishop who represents the African...and more conservative...voice, spoke of their conversations in their groups, their willingness to not only share their perspective, but to then set aside how they view scripture and hear from those who are coming from a different place...and in the end...look at each other and acknowledge that they can not remain on a journey toward the love and light of Christ without each other is an extremely important realization. In answering questions, Bishop Johnson noted that this is not so much a "one side versus' another" but an attempt for two sides, holding paradoxical views, to keep them in the appropriate tension. And while that may not seem hopeful, it really is. Because it means the conversation is continuing! And there was the additional discussion of polygamy...which is still practiced in parts of the communion. See: it isn't all about homosexuality.
In fact, that has been the big ruse. The notion that "homosexuality" is tearing at the fabric of the Communion is one that I rejected a long time ago. What tears at the fabric of this Communion is the fear of change. But if we can trust that God, not people, is the one driving the bus, we will see that the Holy Spirit remains alive and well and amidst those who will accept they don't have all the answers. All of us in the Anglican Communion must accept that God works in strange and mysterious ways in an effort to bring more people into the party. And, for those of us in the Western world, that means recognizing the gifts gay people have and the presence of God that we have felt in our lives, and believe that it is of God, and we have a place at the table and not under it.
The best statement out of this news conference was that there was no statement. Because that's not what's needed at this time. This time, we need real honest conversation. May God's Spirit remain in the mix of those discussions and keep the words flowing. Amen.