Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prayers Requested for the Living and the Dead

Earlier this week we learned of the death of Susan Russell's+ mother, and for her and her family, I requested prayers. Now we must also include Elizabeth Kaeton+ since Eileen the Episcopalifem has just reported the death of Elizabeth's+ mother in the last day. Both priestly daughters are at Lambeth doing the good work of the Gospel, however Elizabeth+ will catch the earliest flight to Massachusetts today.

May light perpetual shine upon them...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Links to Lambeth : Better Late Than Never...

Though I am adverse to my own possible commentary on the doings and goings-on at the Lambeth Conference, I am not adverse to helping the readership find information on the conference itself. There are many American priests, as well as the contingent of bishops, attending the event, and many of them are blogging about their experiences and days across The Pond.

Below are links to the most informative and well-written blogs. I have also included some written by those outside of our country. You will find some serious and analytic, others you will find humorous and irreverent, and yet they all have something to contribute to the understanding of what exactly is taking place. It's always good, I think, to have a variety of perspectives on the same event so one may have a good overview of what is precisely--or imprecisely--influencing and shaping the Communion.

One general source of information is Episcopal Life Online. Here you can find specific info on the participation of the Presiding Bishop, the uninvited yet present +Gene Robinson, as well as video and pictures of various events and venues.

Another American source is the Episcopal Café, offering a wide variety of topics, experiences, observations and commentary from various reporters, writers and clergy. You can also go to the Episcopal Church USA and find a wealth of Lambeth information, especially at Newsline.

American bloggers who are priests are also covering events and making observations from afar. Telling Secrets by Elizabeth Kaeton is one of the most revealing and intimate views of the real people who's lives will be effected by decisions there. Follow her Lambeth experiences each day.

Mark Harris, another American priest, gives us an analytic view of what lies beneath the surface of all the chit-chat among the committees and the food lines as bishops wait to be fed…what an image. You can visit him at Preludium for his erudite commentary.

Integrity's own Susan Russell blogs from London on the day to day gamut of meetings and interviews, especially in regard to the Windsor Continuation Group and its nonsense [oh dear! Did I just comment on something!]. You can read all the dirt here at An Inch At A Time. Oh, and if you would, pray for Susan+ as she just lost her mother.

With all this serious business, one must have respite. For that I strongly urge you to visit Of Course I Could Be Wrong, a blog by Jonathan Hagar, priest of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This is the light and sarcastic side of Lambeth, the side where the Communion can laugh at itself and look at itself in the mirror and guffaw with the absurdity of all the mountains that some bishops and dioceses make out of mole hills. I insist that you visit Jonathan+ as doing so will put things into perspective as well as lighten the Anglican burden.

Lisa Fox's blog, My Manner of Life, is also a window upon Lambeth though she is writing from Missouri. She has her connections and her reflections are a bit from Lambeth, a bit from home, and a bit from others. Still she writes well her thoughts and views in a clear and concise way that touches deeply our Episcopal identity.

If you prefer to keep track of our Presiding Bishop ++Katherine, as well as view the general goings-on at Lambeth,you can do so at Episcopal Life Online's Multimedia page. You can also find picture galleries as well.

And to read and consider what the Blogging Bishops have to say about their days at the Conference, you can read all about that in The Lambeth Journal where different bishops comment and reflect on issues and events each day, and each day, a different duo of bishops does the commentary.

I hope that by giving you some place to start, you can journey to Lambeth yourself--virtually and in your prayers as this major conference takes place. Even if Lambeth does not directly or intensely influence what happens in the Episcopal Church USA, it does have the potential to influence--for better or for ill--the lives of Anglicans in the far-flung reaches of the Communion, where tribalism and ignorance are the fodder for the day. Where torture continues as the norm by "Christians" against the Gospel-believing Christians who are persecuted all the day long for who they are in Christ. I urge you to hold them in prayer especially and speak out against the wrongful use of our Lord's name to perpetrate evil and wrongdoing against those who truly love God. Take a moment now to pray for the victims of these modern day "crusades".

In Christ who made us and loves us,


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Of Lambeth, the Anglican Communion and Everyday LIfe

This will not be a profound expose' of the Lambeth Conference, nor will it be one of expository analysis of the larger Church. I felt I should let you know that right off the top. There is a level of ennui on my part about the larger Church. It's not that I don't care. It's not that I don't see the emotional and spiritual agony of those who see any kind of change in the Gospel message as right or wrong [mostly plain wrong but then these are the ones who don't get the whole Gospel message to begin with...]. It is simply because, when it come right down to it, all we really can do about the changes being argued and fought over is through prayer. Prayer and letting God's will be done. Not what we think His will is but, truly letting God be God and driving the Church as He sees fit. It's like a family in a vehicle. Everyone wants to drive or steer or put on the gas because he or she thinks that they can maneouver the Church better than the next person. Sorry but the Church belongs to God, and no one should have a license to drive it but God, and this license is called God's will.

His will is being done and has been for decades now. Women are priests and bishops in the civilized parts of the Communion, most recently in Britain now where all the "woe is me"-ers are finally deprived of the "issue" of women in the episcopacy. One more issue down and God only knows how many more His human progeny can come up with to further water down the true message of the Gospel and completely focus on the superficial instead of the real issues of poverty, hunger, torture, homelessness, injustice and war, to name a few.

Granted, there are those in the Communion who have the right Gospel focus, and not only in Europe but throughout the WWAC [World Wide Anglican Communion], including the true Christlike Christians in Africa and Indonesia. May the difficult conditions under which they minister be full of blessing and abundance. May they be protected from the power-hungry bishops and priests who would kill and maim in the name of God. In the name of God. How Christians have so abused this justification, most notably those who are Christians in name only and could care less about the welfare of their fellow citizens or peoples in so-called civilized nations. The reality is, the third world is not civilized as we know civility and our knowledge of this concept is stretched pretty thin when we cannot take care of our own in this country. Who are we to lead the second or the third world in peace and justice when we can't get our own act together? We are far better off than almost any nation on the planet and yet the potential for disaster is virtually at our doorstep today.

We are not the leaders of the free world when we imprison the innocent and buy off the guilty. We are the not the peace-seeking leader of the free world when we wage unnecessary wars, destroying the next generation of our own country as well as the country in which we wreak havoc. Or when our current Administration leads us into a conflict to settle an old score for the President's father, instead of using Special Ops forces to accomplish the same task of overthrowing a ruthless government in a covert operation that takes out the immediate leadership and has them eventually stand trial, instead of destroying an entire economy, social structure and incur the wrath of the people we are supposedly "saving".

In same vein, within the Anglican Communion, you do not set out to destroy the entire Communion for the sake of one pitiful issue when talking and diplomacy should be our first recourse. Try to tell that to those who would deny baptized Christians the right to love whom they choose, as they have been given the freedom to love and marry their own spouses. I have heard it said that to allow gay and lesbian couples who are and have been in committed relationships would be a detriment to marriage as we know it. What is a detriment is denying these loving and committed couples the right to marry. Marriage is a civil privilege that should be denied no human being. If it is blessed by a spiritual rite, then so be it but that is not a prerequisite for the marriage itself. In America our Constitution guarantees that we are equal, have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It should be a done deal but its not when others try to decide who gets those rights and who does not.

As Christians, we have been given the two greatest commandments by our Lord Christ:

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul, your very being; and love your neighbor as yourself. [My paraphrase].

How do these two commandments relate to the Church and to Lambeth? What will Lambeth really resolve if anything? Who's in and who's out of the Communion? Who will accept a Covanent and who won't? Who gets to decide what this supposed Covenant says and who decides the final draft? Is a Covenant truly necessary when God the Son has outlined the only Covenant we need which is the most important part? Who is my neighbor and why should I love them again?

"Love God; love your neighbor as you would want to be loved by them [My paraphrase again]".

Here is how to love God and your neighbor: Bring food for your local food bank or kitchen, go through your closets for decent clothing you no longer need or wear for St Vincent de Paul, give generously to your priest's discretionary fund to help those trying to pay for electricity or water, or for help in getting out of a bad situation. Find something about the people you work with that unites you, even when you are the only Christian Democrat in the mix [my case], weed your book collection at home so that others who cannot afford a book can read when you donate to a local shelter or library, when growing your veggie garden this summer, plant an extra row for the hungry and take it to a local soup kitchen or charity. And yes, charity begins at home, with your neighbors. Once you learn how to love your neighbor, its easier to love those who aren't.

This is the lesson I hope someone will have the courage to teach or talk about at Lambeth this time around. When these African and Indonesian and South American bishops and priests learn to take care of their own people, truly loving them as themselves and loving God and understanding how He loves us, then they may have an opinion on how the rest of us should then live. Until that time, I have no ears for them, or their counterparts in the United States. The Episcopal Church USA has a heart and mind for the real Gospel, and it is good news. It is a shining light on the whole for how we should and do love our neighbor.

So what about reporting on Lambeth? I actually have no interest in doing so. It's God's Church. It's about time they realized that the Communion's bishops, priests and lay folk have absolutely and ultimately no power over it. Remembering that we are instruments of God's will should be enough. As a consequence, I will continue to support and encourage my local parish in the living out of the Gospel and thereby changing the greater Church, one parish at a time.