As the General Convention of the Episcopal Church fast approaches, I turn my eyes, ears and thoughts to the Scripture assigned in the Daily Office.
We're making our way through the Book of Acts. And we have hit the beginning of the end for St. Stephen, a reportedly angelic-faced, grace-filled man who's charisma and character posed a threat to some of the establishment. They lay false charges against him, claiming that his message in support of Christ was designed to denegrate and undermine the law of Moses. (This isn't entirely true, but why let the facts get in the way of good persecution, right?). Today's assigned reading only takes us through the first part of Stephen's self-defense. He is laying out the history of the Hebrew people, methodically taking everyone through the timeline of Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and Joseph to Moses. We don't reach the dramatic conclusion of his passionate plea until next week. But, needless to say, there's a reason that St. Stephen is a "saint".
Yesterday was the day set aside to remember St. John the Baptist, another man who lost his life by taking a stand and telling the ruling authority, "You ain't right!"
Taken together, and remembering what happened to Jesus for his rebellious nature, one might decide that when the authorities say, "Sit down and shut up!" the best and safest course of action would be to obey.
But is that the right thing?
Fast forward to the General Convention. There are those who would prefer if the Episcopal Church continue to hold the 'status quo', and not address the growing need for clarity about the role of queer people in the church, or what the Church can do to minister and be relevant to its queer members. At some level, I wonder if the problem is that there are those who would prefer to believe that there are no queers in the pews or the pulpits. Or, at the very least, no queers in THEIR diocese. Maybe they want to believe that all of us "others" are still standing on the other side of the church doors. Afterall, if they haven't actively opened them to the "others"... then the only people inside are the ones they've let in, right?
But then that would mean that they're God. And since they are not God, and God is on a mission to bring as many into the party as will accept the invite... well, I guess that means the Church is gonna have to accomodate the "others". The status quo just doesn't cut it any more.
And so, what will be the response of those who believe keeping things just as they are was what Jesus meant by 'the way' to be with us "others"?
This week, we've seen that some who have been increasingly angry about women and gays and inclusiveness have started their own province within North America. And it will be an all-boys club without any of us "others" to bother them. I say, "Buh-bye!" But for those who have chosen to stay, what will they do in Anaheim? How will they respond when the new prophets preaching inclusivety stand up for the LGBT members of the Church? Will they be told to sit down and shut up repeatedly because the presence of our bodies as part of Christ's body makes some uncomfortable? Will they grind their teeth? Maybe not hurl stones, but invectives?
And if they do, how am I to respond? Will I know to turn my eyes to God and ask for forgiveness?