"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."--Phil. 4: 4-7
I have to wonder: if the bishop of Florida attended a noon day eucharist yesterday, these are the words he would have heard. My question is: would he really hear them? Does he hear the invitation not to worry?
Information about, and observation of, this bishop and his "pastoral letter" to the diocese have made me concerned for the man. His "fearing" for the state of the Anglican Communion seems grounded in a deeper "fear" of those who he thinks of as "other". From his letter, it is clear that he believes the only people fit for ministry in the Church are "married heterosexuals" or "chaste heterosexuals". LGBT Episcopalians are not even on his radar; afterall:
We Florida Episcopalians have agreed that we can live with these differences and we have long since concluded that debate over human sexuality will not be allowed to further divide us or to distract us from the important work which God has called us to do.
This would indicate that we have had a "deep listening process" in the diocese of Florida on these matters. I guess I must have missed it. I believe the time has passed for many of us to have such a process because we've already gone through the pain of schism. Those who didn't care to listen have left. Those who have stayed don't really talk about "it". But I have heard repeatedly from people within this diocese that if a person of "otherness" on the human sexuality scale were to approach the bishop about ordination, for example, the response would be one of "gracious restraint." Why? Not for reasons of theology, but for reasons of human sexuality. Because such a "manner of life" seems to pose a problem. How very sad.
In a previous entry, "Remaining Hopeful, Part Three", I talked of needing to find a way to pray for the bishop of this diocese. And I continue to do so, and hope that many other people will continue to recognize Bishop Howard as among the fearful who, because of their fear, can not and will not rejoice and be glad in the work of General Convention 2009. They fail to see that, in ways I think we should all see and make us pause in awe, the outcomes of this convention surpassed many of us in our understanding of what was going to happen. In many ways, the words of Isaiah 55 apply:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord."
I believe this is true. The actions taken at this GC were "of God" and were not the ways of human manipulation and politicking.
So, then, if that's true: where does the bishop's faith lie?