As church politics prepare for Day Two in Anaheim, I find solace again in the assigned readings from the Daily Office, and how well they correspond to the events occuring in the life of the Church.
The gospel readings have been from the end of Luke, which includes the story of the walk along the road to Emmaus. Two disciples, distraught, despondent, and disbelieving (of course!) of the news the women delivered to them of Jesus' resurrection, are walking toward Emmaus where a "stranger" meets them on the road. The stranger is Jesus, but they don't know it. Even as he talks about the Scripture with them, they still don't know exactly who he is. It isn't until he breaks bread with them at the dinner table that they say, "Ooohhh!!!"
Funny thing that. Interesting that it takes almost a figurative bonk on the head sometimes to realize what is right in front of your eyes. Odd that those who are supposedly so devout can not see God until he is 'known in the breaking of the bread.' How often do we remain blind as we go about scratching out our living? And how often is it that the ones who think they have a handle on God aren't really seeing God? In the story, after Jesus breaks the bread, he vanishes. And the two, dumbfounded and delighted, think about their walk with him, and start comparing notes:
They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ --Luke 24: 32-34
Now that they've experienced him for themselves, they are willing to believe that what the women had said was true. And they realized it was true by the burning in their hearts.
As I think about what ++Katharine Jefferts Schori was preaching with regard to new hearts, and realizing what is the will of God coming from within the heart, I hope and pray that those gathered in governance of our Church will follow the intellect of their hearts. Because I believe it is through a heart-to-heart connection that this diverse group of people with any number of opinions will make better, more mindful decisions about the future of the Episcopal Church.
Interestingly, the Daily Office is also following the Acts of the Apostles, which is a very timely read for GC2009! We are at the point of Paul's conversion, and Peter has seen the sign from God that he should not profane and call "unclean" what God has created. Wow!! I don't think you can top the power packed in that punch! This is God working God's purpose out to get the disciples... the very first priests and bishops of the early Church... to see that their mission is not exclusive to the Jews; they must take God to the Gentiles, and when a Gentile desires to know God, they are not to say, "Well, first I want you to repent of who you are because you're not just like me!"
This is an important lesson as General Convention prepares to start legislative hearings on issues of interest to the LGBT community. Yesterday, a committee gave overwhelming approval to B012, a resolution designed to help those dioceses in areas where same-sex marriage is legal. There was little dissent expressed. In fact, Integrity reports that the only person who raised counterpoints to the resolution was a delegate from the Diocese of SW Florida (imagine!). In other reports, bishops from outside the USA who are attending as observers of our process are getting the idea that, in the United States, our structure allows for greater influence from the House of Deputies... which includes lay people... and is NOT a top down model of Bishops and their peons. This is a different concept for many of them. But what they are gathering from it is an appreciation that we are NOT the devil as some schismatics have portrayed us. Perhaps these bishops of the Anglican Communion will share their insights with their brother Primates, and we can quit the name-calling?!
So, I am remaining hopeful. I am hopeful that those who expected us to keep "the status quo" are going to find that God's Holy Spirit doesn't sit still, and to keep us frozen in time will not take this Church along the road to Emmaus or Damascus.
Almighty and everlasting Father, you have given the Holy Spirit to abide with us for ever: Bless, we pray, with his grace and presence, the bishops and the other clergy and the laity now assembled in your Name, that your Church, being preserved in true faith and godly discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and gave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. --BCP, p. 255