Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Pope and All The Noise

There's been a lot of noise lately and I'm not talking about the road construction that happened outside my massage practice Tuesday which provided the extra vibratory experience for most of the day.

I'm talking about the constant hand-wringing over marriage equality as dioceses in the Episcopal Church wrestle with "What'll we do? What'll we do?" And that's compounded by the on-going drama in Rowan County where the Clerk of Court, Kim Davis, continues to make headlines in her effort to stop gay and lesbian people from getting married. 

The clashing and clanging gets even louder when you factor in the announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that he wants all 37 primates of the Anglican Communion to fly to England in January so they can prayerfully consider what the future holds for the very fractured Communion. The ABC even extended a "guest" invite to the leader of the Anglican Church of North America, Foley Beach.  Bishop Beach has said he wants to know what the other bishops aligned with the Global South want to do. And, from their early responses to this invite, it seems they aren't inclined to go to England because they don't want to be in the same room with The Episcopal Church or the Anglican Church of Canada. And so while the Archbishop seems to believe we have a communion where we are a couple that is "sleeping in separate bedrooms," from where I sit, it would seem that the couple is not only split; one has taken up residence elsewhere entirely. I don't think this is a situation where Humpty Dumpty can be put back together again. 

The invite to ACNA struck a nerve with me because of the history of how they came into being. They have been instruments of discord and fear about gay and lesbian people and our participation in the life of the Body of Christ. In Africa, their Global South partners have backed anti-LGBTQ legislation including the calls for putting gay people to death. To say that I'm not exactly comfortable with their presence in any meeting is a huge understatement. And yet, if I am to be faithful to my trust in God, I must also be willing to believe that God knows my misgivings and God knows that the only shield and strength against fear and hate is Love. And so the call to me is to ground myself in Love and put on that armor of Light that Paul talks of to face those who fear me.

And having done all that, I can say that when I heard the news of this meeting, and the almost predictable response from the GAFCONites, my response to all of it is, "Meh!"

Same thing with the fretting and dialoguing and teaching and discerning and talk, talk, talk about marriage for same-sex couples in the church. As I used to say many times while serving as the President of our local PFLAG chapter, "The more we act as if there is something to keep secret, or hidden, or in the closet about being gay, the more it becomes a 'thing' and the more it feeds into the belief that there is something 'wrong' with being an LGBTQ person." I apply the same thing to the angst about marriage. The more everyone acts as if having a same-sex wedding is a "thing," and not the usual celebratory and happy occasion that's supposed to be associated with a church wedding, then we create our own Hell of "what's going to happen? Who's going to leave? What will the neighbors think?"

What does any of this have to do with the pope? My observations of Pope Francis as he visits the United States for the first time is that he doesn't let the noise interfere in the mission of Christ. Amidst all the rancor and garbage and muck of politics and immigration and keeping a person such as himself "safe," I watched a video of him beckoning his security detail to allow a five year-old child to approach him with her note as he rode along a parade route. The girl from L.A. is a child of Mexican immigrants who fear deportation. He embraced her and took her note. He arrived at the White House in what appeared to be a Fiat compact car; not a limo. There was much ado made about Pope Francis having to meet a crowd of 11,000 people at the White House which would include about a half-dozen gay people and one of the Nuns on the Bus activists. This may have caused the Vatican and some others grave concern, but the Pope seemed to get through the event without any problem. See, in my observation, Pope Francis does this amazing thing: he lives in the moment, following and modeling the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. When one is doing that, there is no place for fear of the "other." There is only the presence of being in Love.

It's as if he, too, is experiencing all that which would distract from Christ as "Meh." Because it is.

Let us pray the words from Psalm 146 from the Book of Common Prayer:

Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
    I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
    for there is no help in them.
3When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
    and in that day their thoughts perish.
4Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
    whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
    who keeps his promise for ever;
6Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
    and food to those who hunger.
7The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
    the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
8The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
    he sustains the orphan and widow,
    but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9The LORD shall reign for ever, *
    your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

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