Monday, March 26, 2012

Ding Dong, the Covenant is dead---well, er ah maybe?

It is always exasperating to me to sit down to write a post on something that is burning in my soul and then I mistakenly read my mail before pulling up WORD.  Today is one of those days and I find that one of my friends has written MY article--and is often the case, written better than I can write it.  Such is the case.  My dear Sistah in Christ, Elizabeth Kaeton got there ahead of me today .

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition knows that it can't shut down just yet. Just because the Anglican Covenant failed to get the simple majority in the diocese in the Church of England does not mean that the Covenant is dead. The Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has said that just because the C of E has chosen not to confirm the Anglican Covenant at present, this does not mean that there are other provinces that have already signed on and the 'luta continua'.

What I have seen over the past 18 months is an 'Anglican Spring' in the UK.  People in the pew, lay folk and vicars of small parishes have wakened to the idea that the people speak.  And as much as the Brits distrust popular voting in the Church, they are awakening to a Church that has been too long in the hands of academics and  church bureaucrats rather than speak for and with the needs of the people in their cities, towns and villages.   And as +Gene Robinson said at a viewing of the documentary on his life in the UK, the Church of England is going to find out that despite its self, the Church is going to have to wake up to the fact that the state has become more just than the Church.

This is also happening here in the US.  It isn't happening, necessarily in the church, but it is happening among the people who are saying that corporations "aren't people."  They are saying that it is time to take back the elective process in American politics.  It is time for the people of our nation to take back what was given away by those who chose to be passive and irresponsible about our elective process.

Yes we have some governmental agencies that are so full of themselves that they make it impossible for people to work effectively.  Yes, we have greedy people who have sold the elective heritage for a bowl of pottage, but I am feeling among the younger people a longing churches and governments to be what they were created to be.  I rejoice in that.

I generally wax a bit philosophical about the Church.  I do believe that the Barque of Peter will right itself.  I am not so certain of the politics.  The mare's nest that has developed in Congress is not going to be easily alleviated.  But the movement has begun.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Five: Vital connection...

(Dance floor)
OK I'll admit it, right now I am exhausted, there is so much going on and so much to do that I fell like I am running around in small circles, add to that the fact that there is so much that I'd like to do ....

What I need to do is give myself permission (make myself) to stop and to refocus, to breath the air and smell the roses to get perspective and to rest in God's presence, and sometimes that can be hard to achieve but I know that the harder it gets, the more essential it becomes. Somewhere deep inside I hear the Spirit whispering to my soul:

Live in me, make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself, but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined to me... (John 15: 4)

So I want to ask you

1. How do you intentionally make a vital daily connection with God? What roots you and gives you life?
I have to admit that I don't every day.  Some days I just get up and go straight to the laptop.  Some days I sleep late and lie around in bed.  There IS something about being retired... But most of the time I find that God finds me.  The important thing is that I don't run away.  It is then, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle that I just have to find a place to be quiet if it is nothing more than the bathroom.
2.  Do you have a favourite space/ place that you go to?  I don't have a "Laughing Place" here in TX yet.  I can never seem to find a place in the church I am serving.  I have often gone to a RC church or chapel.  Often here in TX it is driving out on the plains.  Right now the bluebonnets are in bloom and that is such a beautiful journey.

3. Is there a particular passage, phrase or prayer that brings you immediately into God's presence?  "Be still and know that I am God."  If it is especially trying, Ben Sirach 2. Psalm 139 generally speak.

4. Music- essential ingredient or distraction- discuss
Because I started out as a symphonic musician, classical music often speaks better than Scripture.  The Brahms Requiem, Anything by Mahler, The 2nd movment of Ravel's Piano Conceto, Anything by Rutter, If I have to be working, I don't want words to the music so I stick with instrumentals.  If I am just being quiet and I need something with inspiring words, I will often find some Gregorian chant that I know.  And sometimes it is some jazzy or hip hop thing that gets me off my duff.  Music speaks in my soul as does art.
5. Silence and solitude or engagement with like minded others?  
Actually both.  At times I really need the silence to center on God's love, to remember all the good things that God has done for me.  If I need to get out of myself and my own grief, sadness or self-possession I need to be with others who love Jesus or need to be loved by Jesus.  I need to forget myself and see Christ in others. Being and extrovert, I get energized by being with others.  Years ago after I took the Meyers-Briggs I figured out that solitude just enervated me.  But I also knew that it was in that silence that I had learned to let go of myself and listen to God.  Meditation can be done while I am driving--contemplation should not!!!  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ethics, Internet and the Anglican Communion

Since last Friday I have been thinking of the ethics of the internet.  There are those who have said that the No Anglican Covenant Coalition brought the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  I don’t believe that is true, but I have been quite aware of the work of our little NACC group trying to get the message out that seen the Anglican Covenant is as one of my colleagues says: “Neither”.  I have said from the beginning that the Archbishop put too much of his cache into the Covenant alone as a way to keep the Communion together.

Personally, I don’t count for much.  I am not a bishop.  I have been in charge of medium sized parishes in my career;  I don’t have a doctorate.  I don’t have much cache and yet our small group has had an impact on the way that the Church of England has voted on the Anglican Covenant.  We have no power except the sincere faith that the Anglican Covenant is truly wrong for the churches of the Anglican Communion.
Back in 2003 when +Gene Robinson was elected I had just started in a new parish in CNY.  It was a difficult parish going through the loss of the major industry in town.  The parish had turned down a candidate before they interviewed me.  They felt that I was the only hope—I should not have accepted the call, but I thought I could help them recover from a 32 year incumbency in which the curate had followed an equally long-term rector.  The parish had never come to grips with women’s ordination really and the interim had not work through the normal anxiety that comes after a long incumbency.  I was on vacation when +Gene was confirmed by the General Convention and there were all kinds things in the papers.  We had several vacancies in our deanery so we were only a few rectors in the area and two of our parishes were up in arms about the election of a partnered gay man.  I was called by a local tv station and asked my opinion on Bishop Robinson’s election and I told them that I thought that the Diocese of New Hampshire was doing a courageous thing.  It was a statement of integrity and it was in keeping with the inclusivity of the Gospel.

At the next deanery meeting the seething anger of those opposed to +Gene’s election made some incredibly foul statements about LGBT people.  The dean of the district was one of the nay-sayers.  I finally said that that kind of language was out of line and expected the dean to agree with me.  I finally said that I would not accept that kind of language about ME.  It was the first time I had publically owned my own lesbianism but I could no longer listen people denigrate people I knew and what I knew myself to be.  I finally walked out still shaking at what I had just done.  The dean then talked to some of the leaders in my parish.  Within 5 months I was gone from that parish.  The bishop came (without being asked) to one of my Vestry meetings and that night I was removed from the parish.   I had a panic attack that night that landed me in the hospital thinking I had had a heart attack.

The kind of polarization that came from that incident had a tremendous impact on my life.  The kind of nastiness that the ‘evangelical’ parishes pushed on the diocese was rank.  It was name-calling and untruth spread abroad by way of the internet.  The diocesan list-serve became a place where the neo-conservatives commented on every post whether it was on human sexuality or not.  There were only 3 or 4 parishes in the whole diocese, but they caused so much disorder that it was impossible to have peaceful discussions in the diocese. 

I had never really identified myself as gay.  I knew I was more attracted to women than men, but I had been celibate since 1970.  I knew how I lived before God and to me that was what was important.  But it was with +Gene’s consecration and the resulting hate that it drew to the surface, I knew I need to claim my own identity for my own sake and for the sake of the Church.  I cannot in conscience allow people to denigrate my priesthood or anyone else’s just because they are uncomfortable with the call God has given us.   I had to stand up and say NO to the prejudice that many were exhibiting whether they were lay, clergy or bishop.
Yes, I was angry.  It was one of the most difficult times in my life because I knew I had been faithful but I had been rejected because it was easier to reject than deal with the reality of the anger at the homophobia and fear in the diocese.  I was isolated and became a pariah and what was more difficult to deal with; J was also treated as a pariah.  She was one of the most senior members of the diocese, but we were both relegated to nothing with no hopes of any work.  It took 3 years before I finally got a position in the ELCA. The betrayal of my church family was and still is the most hurtful thing that I have known.  And that loss also had a tremendous effect on my pension. 

Even though I have been a priest for almost 30 years, not having a parish to pay into pension my last 5 years means that I don’t have much in the way of pension.  And I was told not to pay into Social Security.  So I don’t have any ‘entitlements’.  I should be angry still.  But I am not.  When I entered the convent, I knew that I was giving my life to God.  That is enough.  That is all I have ever wanted.  But I am still drawn back to this ‘Time of Great Unpleasantness’ that we have endured in the past 10 years.  God is doing something in our world.  I still can’t see what it is, but I believe we are coming to the place where we are seeing that it is not “standing firm in faith” that marks the Christian.  It is not making cogent arguments or even debate that shows us what faith is.  It is balance and respect.

I found that when I allowed my anger to get in the way of the respect that I have for the person with whom I disagree, I have lost the ability to find Christ in them.  And when I no longer find Christ in them, I can dismiss them.  I was dismissed; I know that pain.  I cannot inflict that pain and still call myself a Christian.
It is easy to see the No Anglican Covenant Coalition as a group of nay-sayers.  And I have to admit there are those among us who are angry or pissed.  But for the most part this is a group of people I have found privileged to work with.  We have always called ourselves to the best of ourselves.  We have wrangled with different ways of articulating the truth of what we know Anglicanism is.  Sometimes it feels that we can’t quite say what Anglicanism is but we all know it when we see it. 

I know that there are those Anglicans in the world that do not believe in the Real Presence and who don’t subscribe to a liturgy that I would recognize from a BCP.  But that doesn’t matter.  We are still kin to each other in the fact that Jesus is still lord to them and to me.  That is all that is important.  That is the communion that we share.  That is the respect we hold. And that they worship God in God’s holiness says that they are my sisters and brothers.

I am saddened by the resignation of ++Rowan Williams.  I am sure he will be relieved to be rid of the yoke of the archbishopric.  I do not know who could have weathered the seas of contention that the Anglican Communion at this time.   I do not consider him a failure—misguided perhaps, but not a failure.  I merely see this as one of those times when we must disallow our anger to overwhelm us and I wonder if that is what he is doing.   

I am still debating with myself about the ethics of email campaigns.  But the internet is among us.  We have yet to figure out how we should or should not use it in the Church.  But I do think that when more than one voice is heard, the truth of the Gospel can be heard more clearly.  And after reading over 300 emails a day for several weeks, I know that the Truth of God is in there.  Refusing to allow the anger to overwhelm and maintaining the balance and respect that Christ graces me with is the way that that Truth will out.  It is when  a retired priest in TX or the dales of Yorkshire can have a say with a professor from Oxford and a lay woman from the Louisiana Bayou, a Chicago guy who is isolated in his own church, or a priest in Washington, a computer geek from Pittsburg, a priest from New Zealand or a retired bishop of the UK, a priest from the wiles of Saskatchewan or an Archdeacon from Alberta or a Scotsman or a layman from Guatemala that we begin to understand what this Anglican Communion really is. God is in the conversation.

The work we have done may never be feted but has been important for the future of the Communion.  No, we didn’t bring down the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The times, the Churches and the world has changed in the past 10 years.  Let us rejoice and be glad.

Friday, March 16, 2012

ABC to step down

“The Archbishop of Canterbury announced that he will step down from his position as head of the Anglican Communion at the end of 2012.”  Those words woke me from the slumber I normally greet NPR of a morning.  I am not usually someone who bounds out of bed ready to work.  But this morning I got to the computer just as my British friends were beginning to get the message.  The number of emails that we can generate on the No Anglican Covenant Coalition list-serve is more than one can read.  And we all seemed to be talking at the same time. 

A committee-generated news comment was released with most of us signing on.  English vs. American language notwithstanding, we were able to get something out in a reasonable time especially with the time delays from Greenwich to Bangkok.  I am awed by this bunch of folks who love the Anglican Communion but royally dislike the Covenant that has been put before us. Most of us have real positions we must attend to and still produce enough list-serve posts to gag a maggot.

I have learned so much about the Communion since I began on this Coalition almost a year and a half ago.  Our polities are so different and our cultures are so different.  Everything is different including our liturgy and even the way that we speak English.  And yet we love the Communion.  We love our nods to history even though they are quite different from what I thought they were when we began.  There have been some fine articles written by considerable scholars and wonderfully witty comments in that droll English (dare I say Anglican) humor that I find still holds us together.

I am not surprised by ++Rowan’s decision.  He is not winning the battle for the Anglican Covenant.  And his leadership has been lackluster for many years now.  This does not take away that he is a good man.  He has been pressured by many—probably by most of us.  He is an Anglo-Catholic who is trying to deal with the Evangelicals in his own church and the bullying of special interest groups throughout the communion.  He has teetered on the women bishops’ issue trying to keep the Anglo-Catholics that would rather go to Rome than share their altars with women. He was unable to keep the GAFCON churches in communion with us.  There are the Evangelicals who want Biblical Literacy to be the center of our faith lives.  Then there is the NACC who see the Anglican Covenant the thing that will eventually fragment the Communion forever. All of this wears on a person.  And it has been quite evident of late that he is just plain tired.  He is basically a gracious man but of late has been brusque and bullying.

Rowan Williams was chosen for his scholarship.  He has a great mind, but he hesitates at his own scholarship.  I am not sure it that is due to his personal humility or whether he doubts his own work.  Now I don’t mind if a person changes his views.  It shows maturity when you can accept that you are wrong about things and have to change your mind.  But ++Rowan doesn’t do that.  He just ignores his previous position and then doesn’t “show his work” when he makes a new statement.  It is hard to follow such a man.

Granted, I don’t think anyone could have dealt with the issues that are facing the Communion these days.  And Rowan's own ecclesiology fights with the loose configuration and good will that holds the Communion together.  I know he will be happy to be back in the arms of the academy to finish out his ministry.

Of course, everyone is speculating on who will replace Dr. Williams.  I would nominate ++Katharine Jeffert-Schori, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.  And better for her too.  But I do hope that the next ABC will be someone who understands this new age we are in and who can stand with a foot in it and a foot in the modern era.  It is necessary for the future of the Communion because it is this peculiar brand of catholicity that probably speaks Church best for a future age than any other form of Christianity including the evangelicals.  

Friday Five: Late!!

I have looked repeatedly at RevGals to see where today's Friday Five is. . . . AND only right now, at 2 pm in Texas, do I realize I am the one in charge! I am sorry I am so late and forgetful.
That brings forth all the times I've been late or forgot something. How about you?
When have you been late or a no-show? When have you forgotten something or someone? Jan

Periodically—in fact these days it is more the rule than the exception, I forget stuff.  I know Jan feels as much a fool as I do when such things happen.  But I am so thankful that you didn’t come out with this until late.  For us Anglican types, we have been all over the internet with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s resignation today. I had 174 emails between 8:30 am and noon.  I only now have time to play with the FF.

1. at church:  I overslept once and got there for the blessing. And I forgot to set my clock last week and almost was late—that sermon was preached  WBC (without  benefit of coffee).  Not a pretty sight.  But we have a worship team that is always ready to do Morning Prayer if need be.

2. at home:  Almost every day!  Getting up, getting dinner, getting groceries, always emptying the cat box. Thank God we are both retired!

3. at work:  See above.

4. with friends: I forgot to pick someone up at the airport once.  ARGGGGG.

5. ? where else?:  I forget my keys, billfold, jacket, glasses with such great regularity I now have a ritual before I leave the house that includes patting pockets and a litany that keeps me on track.  Perhaps I will set it to music.  I know it will be a hit with the Boomers!  And I also forget that I have forgotten.  Isn’t age wonderful???  You young things pay attention:  At least we muthahs have an excuse!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Zeal for my Father's House consumes me"

As some of you know I have a temper.  It has been the bane of my existence for most of my life  my life and has gotten me into more trouble.  I thought that when I came to love Christ, that that penchant for getting angry would miraculously disappear.  It didn’t.  When it didn’t and sheer willpower didn’t dissipate the anger, I knew I need to find some way to reconcile my temper with the Gospel.

Finally I found this passage in the Gospels and said “Ahhh, Jesus got angry too!” And I used this passage to justify my ‘righteous anger’ because it was ‘what Jesus would do’.  Now, this is not the way that Christians use Scripture as a way to transform their lives.  And until I finally learned that anger is a normal human emotion and you can’t help the feelings of anger, you can only direct your actions, then I made peace with the anger, and it doesn’t control me as it once did.

But Jesus was not a meek and mild man.  He was a man who was angered by injustice and acted upon it.  But today’s reading has a new understanding due to archeology that I want to share with you.  And it gives us new insight as to why Jesus was angry.

We know that this story about Jesus was based upon a real incident.  All four gospels tell it in some way.  In John’s gospel there is a bit more information on the incident and in it we get the idea that this one action did provoke the leaders of the Imperial army and the Herodians to plot the death of Jesus.
But why was Jesus angry?  There are several things going on in this story.  Most of us have heard that the money changers were being dishonest, or selling tschotskies like they do in cathedrals everywhere.  But that wasn’t the issue.  Some of us have heard that sacrificial offerings were sold on the temple grounds.  That’s true but still not the issue.  We may have even heard that the temple tax had to be paid with money that did not have a Caesar’s image on it as did Roman coins; ergo one had to change their money with the usurious money changers.  And while that was true, it was still not the reason for the Jesus’ quote from Psalm 69:9   “zeal for my father’s house consumes me”. 

The Temple mount was huge, on the order of Fair Park.  The first court of the Temple was for the goyim (the ‘nations’ in Hebrew). And from its inception, the Temple was to be a place of pilgrimage for all nations.  The Jews were chosen so that they could teach the rest of the world about their God. From the time of Genesis, the People of Israel were to bring all people blessing.  Therefore all people, no matter their faith, could come to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray to the one God.  But because of the commercial endeavors, the court for the goyim—the nations, was being choked out. There were shops and booths set up and crowds of hawkers.  It was no longer a place for them to be prayerful. There was a smaller court just for Jews.   Here the money changers were not allowed.  Here the sale of sacrificial animals was not allowed.  And a new archaeological find shows a sign from the time of Jesus that was on the wall separating the Court of the Goyim and the Court of the Jews that said something to the effect:  “Anyone entering this court who is not a Jew, his blood is on his own hands”.  So much for Radical Hospitality!

Jesus was from the Galilee.  He was a country bumpkin.  He was not a part of the ‘Jewish establishment of Jerusalem’ and many of the elite thought themselves to be above the Galileans.  Jesus was appalled by the exclusionary message that was being sent to the people who had come to pray to the Holy One of Israel.  He lost his temper and ran the vendors and the money changers out and turned over their tables to clear a place for ALL nations to come to pray.  Jesus’ zeal was for a place where people could know God and make God known.  Jesus was trying to return the Temple to what is was supposed to be.

This story is really quite timely for us here in this diocese.  We are in the process of trying to recapture what it means to be Episcopalian in this area when we have been told by folk that the Episcopal Church is no longer Christian, or no longer Anglican.  Or whatever message that was once conveyed here.  We have been told that there is only ONE way to worship or ONE way to be or only ONE way to behave to be REAL Episcopalians or Anglicans.  And if there is one message that the history of Christianity and Anglicanism portrays is that there is more than one way to worship, one way to believe and one way to know the Holy in our lives. 

In our Bible Study last Wed. we were talking about the profound experience of God that some had had in their lives.  Folks tried to describe it but could only begin to approximate in words the power of that moment. We struggled to find words, but we could see in each other’s faces “the zeal for my Father’s house” consuming them.  Each experience was different but we understood the holiness that each had touched.  We were a group of people who had known, if for a brief moment, that we had experienced the love of God in a way that we could barely describe.  We all nodded and smiled.  We all had known that moment when we had been overwhelmed with the “zeal for the Father’s house”.

When I got home from class, I received a post from a priest-friend who is presently visiting a colleague in Thailand.  This is the first time she has ever been in a Buddhist country and so she went to a local religious festival.  She found herself following the procession—a mini pilgrimage and then went into sit in silent meditation in the Buddhist temple.  She spoke first of the discomfort being in a tradition not her own, but in the meditation she knew of Christ’s presence with the Buddha and her aversions were assuaged.  She was so moved by the images in her meditation that she began to weep and the people around her gathered close to her knowing that she was experiencing something of holy goodness.  They did not understand the same language but they understood each other’s expression of the Holy. Holy love goes way beyond word or images or music or any human expression, but it can be communicated without any of those.

All too often we try to order our emotions, our experiences our lives so that we can control them.  But the Spirit does not allow us to do that.  This does not mean that we do not have to discipline our faith lives.  I had to learn that I couldn’t exhibit my anger if I was going to really be a witness to Christ’s love.  But all too often we want to control our faith—to tame it, as it were. ( I often think that it is sort of like the line "There's no crying in baseball" when Episcopalians touch the Divine in worship. We do want too much emotion shown.) But the God who loves us more than life calls us to touch that moment in which all the world and all the Holy come together.  God invites us to experience justice deeply, welcome intimately, enjoy beauty,  love faithfully, glory in joy when All becomes One. 

Jesus knew that excluding others was not the way to the Father.  We know that exclusion of others does not proclaim the welcome that God has for each and every one of us.  Christianity is not about knowing the right dance steps or when to stand, sit or kneel.  It is about the kind of hospitality that says “you are home in God’s place.” 

So I too want to invite you to a holy and HAPPY Lent—a time when you can recall those incredible moments of God’s blessing and you can find in yourself the ways of discipline that allow them to happen.  May this time be filled with those incredible moments when the zeal for God's Holy indwelling consume us.  AMEN

Monday, March 5, 2012

Catholicity and Cats (With apologies to Tom Catolick)

Posted today was a Living Church article by Mark D. Chapman of Rippon College, Oxford.  It is again one of those appeals to the Anglican Covenant as a ‘way forward’ in its appeal to ‘catholicity’. 

I think I am getting less ‘catholic’ as I get older.  Maybe it is the move to TX where everything is Baptist, but I don't think unity is all it is cracked up to be--especially if unity means conformity.  Maybe I am speaking heresy. (I have been known to do that.)  I am not the kind of American that believes that individualism is the be-all and end-all of religious experience.  I believe desperately in community—the kind of community that allows us to live together with respect and generosity.  I am one who believes in the commonweal—that human society must work together for the betterment of all.  But the key word is ‘work together.’

I have never quite understood the penchant for 'catholicity' among Anglicans because we find obedience so foreign.  Obedience is the primary virtue for those who adhere to Rome. For those who admire or support Roman calls for Unity also must embrace a primary virtue of obedience to really understand the meaning of 'catholicity' in the today’s Roman mind.  (read: 'lockstep') That Professor Chapman seems to find seeds of ‘spatial catholicity’ in the work of the ACC and the Primates’ meetings is not surprising as they have that desire of all powerless bodies to have some way of managing bodies that have no desire to be managed.

 Part of what has made Anglicanism the different form of Catholicism that it has become is primarily because there have been no outside forces that curtail the ministry of Christ in the local areas.  This does not mean that we should not be mindful of the needs of other churches. The Lambeth ‘tea party’ was not set up to bring uniformity in the Communion.  It was to provide support for those churches in areas that were in need.  Every bishop I have heard who has come home from a Lambeth Conference has talked about the friendships they have formed with bishops in parts of the world quite foreign to their own.  It has not been about legislation.  Its value has been in relationships.

We can laud “Instruments of Unity” all we want, but it is NOT the so-called Instruments that hold us together; it is the hard wrought friendships and willingness to listen to those who are different from one another that makes for the kind of oneness that God calls from us as Church and Communion.  Just as dogmatic statements do not win folk to the banner of Christ any longer, doctrinal argument leave the younger generations cold.  The more we call for doctrinal commonality whether it is regarding Scripture or in ecclesiology, the less we will be able to tell the story of Christ to those who need to find ways to  make sense of their world, their surroundings, in the witness of a God who came to live among us.

For a post-modern age we need to be willing to open our idea of what unity means.  Unity must in a new age be a constant call for community rather than law or structures. If there is anything that the Post-Modern Era is going to call from us is a broader understanding of community, a broader image of the commonness that we all hold in Christ Jesus.  And in this sense we are ‘catholic’ –universal. 

  This is what bothers me about ++Rowan:  he has a modern mind with 16th century notions of catholicity.  Just as the Council of Trent made Roman Catholicism a rigid and unhealthy covenant for those afraid of 16th century Reform, so the Anglican Covenant tries to justify locking the barn after the cows have gone.  And while Vatican II did try to open the windows of Roman Catholicism, the past 50 years have shown that fear still roots out love and care.  This is what the Anglican Covenant promises.  But there is an interesting thing about the Anglican understanding of obedience.  It is not slavish.  “England never, never, never will be slaves” and neither will those of us who come from her womb.  So quite frankly, ++Rowan’s Covenant is an attempt to herd cats. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Covenanted Love: Lent IIB

A colleague pointed out to me that in this cycle for Lent the Hebrew Scripture reminds us of covenant.  The first Sunday of Lent was God’s covenant with Noah following the flood, this week it will be the story of Abram and Sarai, then comes the lifting up of the bronze serpent as a sign of healing and finally Jeremiah’s New Covenant on the 5th Sunday.  All of these covenants have something in common: they have to do with a promise that God makes to humanity.  All of them have to do with God honoring humanity providing a promise that begins in the particular with Noah and moves to all creation.

I wonder then if that isn’t a normal progression of the way that God often deals with us.  We begin with that personal and yet global experience of God.  God makes negative promise: ‘I will not destroy you, yours or the world in this way again.’  You personally can trust God not to destroy you or yours. You do not have to fear the world.  Then he promises to be Abram and Sarai’s God.  There is a fidelity covenanted.  Then the lifting up of the serpent (often thought to be the caduses but it isn’t) which reminds us of the healing power of God: the promise of spiritual health and a new covenant that God will make with all people: a covenant that says I will be the God of the entire universe and I will love you.

This covenantal progression is often how we develop as faithful people when we realize that the Holy is an entity beyond us, when we can look away from ourselves and see God moving in the people and the world about us.  I was reminded by another colleague that the rainbow in the sky is ‘broken light’—it is bent through a prism to create the spectrum of light that spreads across the sky.  It is often in our brokenness that we first find the Holy One and then we enter into a relationship with God and claim God as OUR God.  Then we find God in the healing of our brokenness and we then welcome a new promise of God’s deepening friendship that we can live with, tolerate even love those who are different from us because they too have been freely loved by God.  God is constantly opening our vision of what is God’s definition of what is loveable, and lovely in our lives.

I readily admit I am not conversant with the theologies of other faiths.  I do not know how Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Jainists reference their faith.  I just know that I know that connection with all that is both beyond me and within me that connects with all goodness is Divine.  And I can talk about it through the vocabulary and constructs of Christianity.  I know God’s love for me through the person of Jesus and through the prophets and the laws of Hebrew Scripture.  But I also know the Holy One through the personal experience in prayer, sacraments and liturgy. 
Covenants are about God’s care for me.  They call me to a faith that demands trust in the Holy.  They remind me of the goodness in creation and the goodness within me that connects with through covenant with the goodness in others.  They remind me that not only do I not have to fear the awesomeness of God, but that I do not need to fear myself or others as I live my life in faith.  Covenanted love, whether between humanity and the Holy, or between humans cannot be based on fear or punitive methods.  Neither can covenants be quid pro quo nor can they be one-sided.  Covenanted love calls from us a willing to be partners in the true sense of the word.

However, most Christians do not believe that they are partners with God.  Years ago, Transactional Analysis took the world by storm.  I began to apply it to my prayer life.  If I wanted to have a healthy relationship with God, I need to step into and Adult-to-Adult relationship with God.  It was the only way that I was going to step beyond God as Holy Parent and into a greater relationship.  This in no way means that I think I am on a par with God.  But it does say that I needed to take responsibility for my relationship with God rather than repeat childhood transactions with God as an adult.  Covenanted love is an Adult-to-Adult transaction.  Yes, I can and do resort to ‘hiding beneath the shadow of God’s wings’ at times in my prayer and return like the prodigal child or even pout like the older sibling.  But that does not take away from the covenanted love that I know with God.  It is a mature faith that does not allow me to exclude others so that I can feel safe, or demand of others adherence to codes that I find difficult to follow. 
God calls us into covenants when God is calling us to newness very much like God calls us to discipline during Lent.  

Friday, March 2, 2012

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Essentials Edition
Kathrynzj has posted

I'm heading from unseasonably warm temperatures and no snow to a place of GREAT SNOW. Sadly, for reasons that don't need to be boringly laid out here, I am sans decent winter boots at the moment so I need to find some... NOW!
In the meantime I am shaking my head at myself. How could I possibly be without one of the key essentials for living in my environment?
Every area is different. What are the 5 key essentials needed for where you live?
And bonus - what have folks looked twice at you for because you wore it out of place.

As one who has recently moved from cold to warm, and from an area of ‘broad church’ to ‘high church’ in my Episcopal tradition, I have had a rather momentous change in wardrobe over the past year and a half.

1.      Sandals:  Good everyday sandals that can be both professional and comfortable.  First of all, since 1979 my feet have only known fresh air for a short while in CA.  So my feet are not used to wearing sandals period.  And here in TX, sandals are a year around item in the stores, but they are REALLY girly.  Size 11’s aren’t girly…period!  So I end up buying Teva’s on line.  Grrrr.

2.      Black clerics:  I have not always worn clerics in my parishes in the north and east.  And when I have, I have worn blue, white, grey and pink.  But folks down here do not recognize that such colors as ‘legal’.  And if clerics are supposed to be a sign, colored ones don’t seem to speak.  So I decided to buy 2 tropical clergy shirts when I moved here that can be worn with the hem out.  They are like guayaba shirts and are really light and comfortable.  I tried wearing a ‘dicky/janie’ but it was waaaay too hot.

3.      Sleeveless:  I have never been fond of sleeveless attire.  After last year’s summer, I am rethinking that.

4.      Windshield wipers:  I am beginning to remember to change my windshield wipers in September.  We don’t use wipers in the summer—last year we did not have rain for 3 months.  The only use in the summer was to wash the dust and soot off.  But the summer heat destroys wiper blades.  So I will buy cheap ones and change them each fall when the rains return.

5.      Soaker hoses:  We have to water our lawns here.  For those in upstate NY it is not often that one has to do that.  But here we have to water more than our lawns.  We have to water the foundations of our houses so that the slab foundations will not crack.

Bonus:  Boots:  Last winter I went to the Ft. Worth Stock Show, an ancient and venerable tradition in Ft. Worth.  It was cold and very wet so I decided to wear my Bean boots.  Perfect for walking around in cattle barns, right?  Nope.  They weren’t cowboy boots and I really got pegged as an ouslander.