14 July 2009

Anointing and speaking the truth

I urge you to read the blogs of Elizabeth Keaton and Bishop Robinson, today.

Elizabeth's post made me well up with emotion and pride that we have the sacraments and that those outside TEC recognize the power of the priesthood.
"Mother," he said (as I winced), "would you stay with us at the end of the march? We're asking some of the clergy to anoint the workers, and it would be wonderful to have you with us."

I was initially taken aback. 'Anoint' he said. What did he mean, really? Did he mean anoint with holy oils or just extend a hand in blessing?

I wanted to make certain I had a correct translation from his Hispanic, Roman Catholic culture to my progressive Western European, Anglo-Catholic understanding.

So, I asked.

"You may not be aware, Mother," he said politely, "that for the workers, this Prayer Vigil and March is a big risk. We need to be anointed for the work of justice, after this event, so that we will find the strength to go back to our jobs. Just a little sign from God that He will continue to be with us after the support of this event."

"We know you have probably not brought your oils with you to this place, so we will have some for you. Will you help us? It would mean so much to some of us for a woman to anoint us for the work of justice."

"Anointed for justice."
Wow! Read the whole post at Telling Secrets

Bishop Robinson's post is a humble post (not that his posts are ever arrogant). It shows what a truly Christ-like man he is.
This is the Church I've been telling my gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters to come to, or to come back to. This is the Church that sees the face of Christ in the poor, the despised, the neglected and the marginalized. This is not the "gay Church," but the Church who values those who are gay, women, people of color, those differently abled, as well as the white, male and middle class. It is a Church for ALL of God's children -- all sinners redeemed by a loving God who gave God's self for ALL on the cross. This is a day to rejoice for the Church -- no, let me be more specific, this is a day to rejoice in The Episcopal Church, which once again has stood for the full inclusion of all.

One of my brother bishops confronted me about something I had written here on this blog, reminding me that my words weren't just going to the people of my diocese (for whom my blog is primarily written), but to the many people who come to read my reflections. He disagreed with my perceptions of the House of Bishops (even though they were written as MY perceptions), feeling that they fueled the often-heard perception that there was a divide between the Houses of Deputies and Bishops. He felt -- and I seriously listened to and contemplated -- that I had exhibited the kind of arrogance that I had accused my brother bishops of.

I have and will continue to contemplate that, searching my soul for the kind of sin I accuse others of. (Jesus had something to say about the mote in someone ELSE'S eye!)

But the point I want to make in relating this personal interaction is that he SAID it. What a gift it is when people speak the truth in love to you. There was no question in my mind that he spoke those words in love -- and that is what makes the Church, and yes, the House of Bishops, a holy place. We're all doing the best we can, and being human, we don't always have the full perspective we'd like. And when we err, fellow Christians correct one another in love. As long as THAT commitment persists, we will be all right. No, we will be better than all right. We will be the community of the faithful God would have us be.
What a holy man he is. Read his post at Canterbury Tales from the Fringe.