Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Small Explosion

As the end of the Lambeth Conference approaches, anxieties are rising and there are more and more frequent expressions of concern that Lambeth isn't going to do anything. Many folks are saying that Lambeth needs to say something robust or definitive.

This morning there was a small explosion in my Indaba group. What exploded was widespread frustration that all the talk about our disagreements distracts from mission and undermines the Communion's credibility. The real issues, the real priorities of the Anglican Communion, need to be poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, the oppression of women and children, the oppression of the Dalits in India, war, refugees, care for creation, etc. (Indeed, if there is a consensus at this Lambeth it is that global warming is the most important matter facing humankind and that care for creation must be a first priority for the Church.) Most of the members of my group shared in some part of this frustration.

Like most explosions , however, this one was unfocused and it soon spread into chastising the Episcopal Church for creating all the disagreement in the Anglican Communion and keeping it going. The Episcopal Church was repeatedly charged with not responding to the Windsor process. The actions of our General Convention 2006 in responding to Windsor are not well known and are often received as new information.

The Episcopal bishops in my Indaba received this critique in respectful silence, without defensiveness, and responses actually came from other churches. The gist of the responses was that all of us are shaped in our ministries by the people and culture of our communities. Each of us is struggling to be faithful as God has given us the light. So there were voices of support, but it was a long session.

At hearings and other meetings today, there were calls to reaffirm Lambeth 1:10 or to state that the Windsor moratoria must continue. The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that there will be no voting or legislation. Rather the work of the Indaba groups will be drawn into a final statement that will be refined by an ongoing process of review in our groups and in hearings. Other processes, such as the Windsor Continuation process and the Anglican Covenant process will continue beyond this meeting. For me, the best part of this Lambeth has been the frank, respectful, and sometimes profound conversations of the Bible Study and Indaba groups. I hope we'll find ways to continue these conversations without forcing a decision now.

For all this, the work of building relationships continues. And daily worship refreshes and strengthens. Tonight the Church of Aoroatea, New Zealand and Polynesia led us in Night Prayer according to the New Zealand Prayerbook. The words and hymns fell like healing rain on a tired congregation of bishops and spouses.

Peace,
+Steve

9 comments:

robroy said...

The real issues, the real priorities of the Anglican Communion, need to be poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, the oppression of women and children, the oppression of the Dalits in India, war, refugees, care for creation, etc. (Indeed, if there is a consensus at this Lambeth it is that global warming is the most important matter facing humankind and that care for creation must be a first priority for the Church.)

Hmmm, isn't something missing from his list of priorities? What could it be? Perhaps, it might be...

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Priscilla said...

You list a great deal of worthy issues, but are you not missing what surely must be the main priorities of all Christians? Namely that of bringing the Word of God to all those who are in darkness? When did the "religion" of a theory become the Church's first priority?

BJ said...

I', with the commenters above. The Bishop's priorities for the church are wrong. The correct priorities for the church are found in Scripture. I take my view of what to do from Rev 7:9 which pictures people from all nations worshiping the lamb that was slain. So I put my energy into supporting efforts to convert souls [out of Islam] to following Jesus. And given the lack of Anglican churches among the people group I'm interested in, I'll be happy that new converts attend any church where Christ is honoured, whorshipped and adored. That they are among the world's poorest people is less important than that they are lost in their sins. Better to be poor and saved, than rich and unsaved.

Polly Prim said...

Another commenter pipes up to agree with the first three.

There are plenty of secular organizations to deal with problems of poverty, AIDS, global warming, rainforests, etc., etc.

Why can't the Church remember its primary mission?

All you tree-huggers need to remember what Christ did to the fig tree. :D

Caminante said...

I respectfully disagree with the above posters. If someone's child is dying from malaria, they are not going to be able to focus on hearing the Good News of God in Christ. If a community does not have food or water, it is hard to hear that news. The Good News of God in Christ also comes through action and not just preaching.

Oscewicee said...

caminante, of *course* we must help those ill from malaria, etc. But it is the Word of God - so yes, saying the words goes with it and is of the utmost importance. Other Christian churches seem to have no trouble with this not very difficult concept. Medical missionaries from a church in my town treated many, many people on a recent trip to Uganda. And they prayed with them too and they spoke about Jesus. Of course, they were mere Methodists.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I actually think that the bishops were quite right to focus on all of these issues.

What did Christ tell Peter just before the very end of his ministry on earth?

Do you love me?

Then feed my sheep.

Feed my lambs.

Feed my sheep.

And what else do we read about what our priorities should be?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul; and love your neighbor as yourself.

And what do we read about how our mission shall be accomplished?

They will know we are Christians because we love one another.

And...

What good is it if we have faith, but not works? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks food, and we say to them, Go your way, eat, be well, and yet you do not provide for their needs, what is the good of that? So faith, without works, is dead.

Of course, we do need to be more able to share our faith as Christians than we tend to be...but I believe that the bishops have identified much that we must do to live our faith in Christ.

Terry Hamblin said...

"The real issues, the real priorities of the Anglican Communion, need to be poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, the oppression of women and children, the oppression of the Dalits in India, war, refugees, care for creation, etc. (Indeed, if there is a consensus at this Lambeth it is that global warming is the most important matter facing humankind and that care for creation must be a first priority for the Church.)"

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

John said...

"Global warming is the most important matter facing manking." Is this the writer's interpretation or the actual decision of the Conference?
John Roediger
South Portland, Maine