17 May 2010

Bruce Garner reflects on the Los Angeles consecrations

The following observation is from Executive Council member, Bruce Garner. Bruce is a past president of Integrity. He served on the Standing Commission on Human Affairs, 1991-1997, and serves now on Executive Council's Commission on AIDS/HIV+. This letter appears with his permission. When I began this little endeavor, Bruce graciously gave me blanket permission to reproduce his writings past, present and future.
    It was a privilege and a blessing to be in Los Angeles last Saturday. The Long Beach Arena was filled with the church in all its glorious and rich diversity. It wasn't just the diversity of sexual orientation, despite the fact that a sharp spotlight was focused on that issue. It was the complete diversity of race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, differing ability, age, economic status, sexual orientation and pretty much any other aspect of the spectrum of diversity found in the human family. The Holy Spirit moved in that place.

    There was a note of sadness that crept into the service. A man began shouting protests shortly after the service began. He was advised that there was a time for his protest later in the service but he persisted in shouting and disrupting the service and had to be escorted out.

    As he was leaving a young boy - about 8 to 10 years old - began to shout protests. Apparently he was the man's son. He was also advised of the proper point in the service to offer his protests. He finally had to be escorted out as well.

    But the Holy Spirit still managed to break in to that sadness when a woman shouted to the boy that we would be praying for him. Hearing that we would be praying for him apparently took the child by surprise.

    As an aside, this young boy did not come up with the hateful things he was saying on his own. He had to be taught them. Such teachings and the manipulative use of a child in the way he was used by his father during this service amounts to a form of child abuse. Our common prayer should be that this child will not be further abused in this way.

    The joy of the service would not be dimmed for long. The music and the liturgy and the presence of God didn't leave room for anything but celebration.

    Bishop Bruno summed up the common mission we all have by noting that we needed to see the face of Christ on all we encounter.

    The ancient pageantry of the church was put on display for all to see. Mitered and coped bishops were in abundance. A camera placed above the altar platform provided all a spectacular view of hands being laid on the hands of two women to make them bishops in the church of God. Cameras also capture everything...including the humor of bishops trying to help each other get hands on the correct head! Each bishop-elect had the words of consecration said over her individually, so hands had to maneuver from one head to the other. I could not help but giggle when a couple of hands were literally picked up and moved from one head to the other!

    The liturgy was letter-perfect right out of the Book of Common Prayer. Rubrics were all followed. I don't think there was even a typo in the entire service booklet....a minor miracle in itself. Despite what some might have thought, the diversity of those involved in the service, the varying ethnic traditions all seemed to mesh perfectly with the words of the BCP.

    Some remain unhappy with Saturday's consecrations. Some can't accept the issues of sexual orientation while others still can't accept the issues of gender that Saturday presented. Yet I think God has and will always prevail in the end.

    Pray for the new bishops. Pray for those to whom they will minister. Pray for grace and patience for those who remain in disagreement. And pray for the safety and the spiritual development of a child who has not yet been allowed to see the enormous breadth and depth of a truly personal relationship with Jesus Christ...a relationship not marred by ancient prejudices and rigidity that leave no room for the Holy Spirit to break in and touch a hurting heart.

    Bruce Garner
    Exec Council

On a related note, please look at the headline in the Telegraph. Okay, I'll tell you what it says: "First lesbian bishop to be consecrated by the Anglican church in America." There is no mention of a certain deposed name is not mentioned, driving home, once again, the fact that a certain American schismatic organization is neither Anglican nor the representative of Anglicanism in the Americas. Thank you, Telegraph.

In what I can only call a God-planned coincidence, Forward Day by Day printed something written fifty-years ago.
The Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." Eph 3:6

What dynamite this verse contained for the early church. For Judaism, the Gentile was the outsider. The Christian church, says Paul, is for everyone who needs it and wants it.

How is the church necessary as a way of making Christ known? Why can't we demonstrate the trans-forming power of Christ in human relations within our families, our communities, our nation? Because in the church Christ demonstrates the radical inclusiveness of his purpose. He wants all people to come into fellowship through him. A family is tied together by blood, a community by common responsibilities and interests, a nation by similar political outlooks and physical territory. What holds the church together? Only Christ. We open the doors of the church and anyone can come in who wants to--no entrance tests, no subscription fee, no claim to superior morality or spirituality. In just such a strange and motley group of people Christ proves his real power to create fellowship. That is why the church is his Body as no other society can be. (1959)
Please note the emphasis is original.