Tuesday, December 8, 2009
During Advent, and pretty much the rest of the time as well, it can seem as though Christians are hearing contrary messages. Do we heed prophets like John the Baptist (shown here in a 16th century Russian icon), who seem to want to sweep away the old order in favor of something challengingly, even frighteningly, new and revolutionary? Or are we being tantalized by an old-fashioned vision of home and hearth, family and community, comfort and peace? During last weekend's internationally newsworthy church family reunion in Riverside, otherwise known as the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, both veins of our Advent and Christmas traditions were in evidence, ending with a memorably rendered prayer which identified two source of hope: The bracing witness of Holy Scripture and the unity of a shared evening meal. My Sunday sermon is here.
Guess I picked the wrong Advent to give up blogging. The President announced his Afghanistan moves, the Diocese of Los Angeles elected two bishops (my friends and colleagues the Revs. Canons Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Glasspool, the latter pictured here with another pal, Evan Gillette from St. Andrew's in Fullerton), and the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement implying that the other U.S. dioceses should vote against Mary+ or else. When a thoughtful brother in Christ suggested on Facebook that a clean break between the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion might be the best way forward, enabling us to redirect the energy we're spending on bickering, I demurred -- and, of course, dragged Nixon into it:
A number of folks on both sides of the issue feel the same way. Speaking personally, I am not eager to have our national church drummed out of a Communion rooted in the English church which was my grandparents' settlement to me and my family. Nor do I think that further schisms honor the body of Christ, even if laying down the cross of conflict and tension might feel like a relief.
I regret the seeming harshness of the ABC's comment; and yet I assume he regrets what he takes to be the harshness of our action to the extent that it interferes with the dance he has been doing (with considerable success) to hold the Communion together after 2003. I believe him to be a learned, gracious, and pious man and would not want to be in his slippers. If there are to be momentous consequences resulting from what we have done, maybe it was his job to make sure our dioceses realize it.
This Advent, as we await the Prince of Peace, a quote from RN: "To lower our voices would be a simple thing."