Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Let Freedom Ring... and say "Yes to Bless"

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines. 

Or at least say a prayer.  The Episcopal Church's General Convention is starting in Indianapolis.  And there is much that will be on the plate of our bishops and deputies between now and the scheduled end of July 12th. 

On my own radar, I am hoping that our church will follow suit with Scotland, the Philippines, New Zealand, the dioceses in the Church of England (etc. etc.) and vote, "No" on the Anglican Covenant.  It is a flawed document that was borne from a very bad place (the Windsor Report) which was borne from an equally bad place of fearing the inclusion of LGBT partnered people in the episcopate.  There are attempts to soften our response to this plan by saying, essentially, we'll continue to mull it over.  The only response that I find acceptable is for us to say, "Thank you, but no thanks!"  If you would like to read more on the Anglican Covenant, click HERE, or simply go to the labels section of this blog and read entries listed under the "Anglican Covenant" or "Anglican Angst."

Another major issue on my radar, and the one likely to receive the most attention from the secular media, is the proposal to adopt liturgies for same-sex blessings.  I already know where my bishop stands (opposed).  I am not so sure where the rest of our deputation from Florida is on this matter.  My hope is, from all that I have been hearing about the priests in our diocese, that our bishop may have one or two who will stand with him on this, and the rest will see fit to vote their conscience as they contemplate the presence of the LGBT&  faithful in their midst.  Increasingly, the resistance to recognizing gay people as fully-baptized members is becoming a position of a bygone era.  My continued prayer is that God keeps doing God's thing to bring more and more into the fold... even if that means the hardening of some hearts in the process. 

Scripture helps to shed some light in this area. In the daily morning office, the readings have been from Numbers.  We have entered that part of the book with the famous scene in which Balak has called on Balaam to curse the Israelites.  But that's not what God has in mind, and put different words in the mouth of Balaam:

Then Balaam uttered his oracle, saying:
‘Balak has brought me from Aram,
   the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
“Come, curse Jacob for me;
   Come, denounce Israel!”
 How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
   How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced?
 For from the top of the crags I see him,
   from the hills I behold him;
Here is a people living alone,
   and not reckoning itself among the nations!
 Who can count the dust of Jacob,
   or number the dust-cloud of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
   and let my end be like his!’  Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but now you have done nothing but bless them.’ He answered, ‘Must I not take care to say what the Lord puts into my mouth?’--Numbers 23:7-12

Stories such as this from the Scriptures give me hope that there are those in Indianapolis ready to vote "no" on the resolution on blessings who may find that their hearts and minds are changed as they encounter the incarnation of the very people they would deny.  Folks who are gay and have been living in partnerships who would like to have their unions recognized by the church are in the pews on Sunday, and they are there in Indianapolis as well.  For now, all we're seeking from this gathering is approval of the liturgies to bless our unions.

There are resolutions, notably A050, which will take the Episcopal Church even further toward full marriage equality.  But that issue won't come up for a final decision until the 78th Convention.   Let's get through this 77th meeting first, recognizing that the Episcopal churches, especially in Province I, would like to offer a blessing liturgy for same-sex couples.

Gracious God, who has made us one family by Holy Baptism, give compassion, wisdom, and courage to our bishops and General Convention deputies who will soon gather in Indianapolis; that all your children may be hallowed by equal access to all the sacraments; through Jesus Christ our Teacher and the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth.  Amen.--Integrity's Prayer for General Convention

No comments: