16 July 2008

What Lameth Palace and Conference are at Lambeth to learn

The following is a letter to the editor of The Scotsman, one of Scotland's leading newspapers. It has erroneously been attributed to the Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh.

I will be watching the Lambeth Conference avidly over the next few days when I expect to see the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, slowly hang himself, having already shot himself in both feet. He will spend more time trying to cope with a bishop coming out of the gay closet than a quarter of the world population trying to find the source of tomorrow's food, or indeed if tomorrow's food will turn up.

Because his bishops live in fear of rational argument, he has not invited [the] Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson to the conference; in doing so, he shows the Christian Churches to be monuments of intolerance where people lose freedom of speech.

Glencairn Crescent


Lest you think I just made that up, read it here. Thanks to YosemiteGreg for bringing it to our attention.
Several weeks ago, I would have shared Mr. Hegharty’s opinion. Lately, I believe that Rowan has found his course. I do not believe that all things will go “our” way but I do believe that major the voice of the bishops’ majority will speak loud and clear.

I also believe it will be up to the bishops if Lambeth is just about an out gay man. If you have not read or listened to +Robinson’s sermon yet, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. You will find it here and here.

In his blog from the UK, the Rt. Rev’d. Gene Robinson wrote of his preaching experience. After the protest died, after +Robinson asked the large congregation to pray for the man who must be filled wit so much sadness, +Robinson went on to say that during the distribution of the Body and Blood:

I noticed Nick in the congregation. He was the young waiter from the cafe that is built right into the entrance to the church. He had served me lunch the day before, and then later told me that he was gay and Christian. He said his mother was Catholic and had told him that although it made her sad, he was going to hell. Nick was there to receive the Body and Blood of Christ with a large congregation who did NOT think he was hellbound.

And then, after the service, there was Emily. I had been told about her by her vicar. She's about twenty years old and has muscular dystrophy. Her mobility is impaired, and her speech is labored. And she has recently announced to her family and friends that she is lesbian. She told her mother and her vicar that she wanted to be there to meet Bishop Robinson. I made sure she was brought up to the private space where we all gathered after the service.

She walked onto the terrace tentatively. I greeted her, noticing that her hands were very weak. With great difficulty, and needing time to shape each word as carefully as she could, she told me what my words and my ministry have meant to her. I asked her if I could hug her, and she melted into my arms for a long embrace. In that moment, I remembered why I was here in London, why I was talking about God's love for all of God's children. I remembered how MANY of God's lgbt children have never heard those words about themselves, or believed them. I was here for Emily, and Nick, and countless others I will never know. God loves them so much, and it must break God's heart that they doubt it. My job is to help rid them of that doubt.

I believe that this has happened to the vast majority of bishops attending Lambeth and to Rowan himself. I believe they have remembered why they were called to ordained ministry in the fit place: to proclaim the love of God in Christ Jesus. To proclaim liberty to the captive, to raise up those who are bruised; to comfort those who need a hug; and to speak the words “God loves you, just as you are; let God worry about what should be changed, if anything should be changed.”

I believe that after a long, long absence, the pastoral aspect of the bishopric is being restored. And I am convinced that it is so because of a man named Gene Robinson. He has been the mirror into which each bishop has had to look – and to see if it was Christ looking back in the reflection. That is what they've come to Lambeth to learn, whether they know it or not -- or want to admit it.

Peter, do you love me? Then feed my sleep.