I was wrong.
The Bishop of El Camino Real in America, Mary Gray-Reeves and the Bishop of Western Tanganyika in Africa, Gerard Mpango will spend a week in the Diocese of Gloucester with others from their countries. They will enjoy a full programme, which involves special services, a pilgrimage and visiting parts of our diocese including Cheltenham, Gloucester, the Forest of Dean, the Cotswolds, Stroud and Cirencester.That is an important and telling statement.
One of the joys of being part of the Christian Church is the series of international friendships that can develop, which help us to understand what it means to be part of a worldwide community, whether that community is the family of the church or whether it is the human race. The teams coming here from Tanzania and California, led by Bishop Gerard and Bishop Mary, will enable us to explore and deepen that friendship and so to play our part in the building of unity within the Church and beyond it.
There is another, far greater joy that +Mary is there even though she and the organizers probably don't realize it: pastoral care to the oppressed simply by being there - being seen.
I cannot imagine how much it must mean to oppressed women in the Church of England to see women bishops. I cannot imagine the hope it gives to disheartened GLBT members of the Church of England to see bishops who support their full dignity and inclusion in the life of Christ's Body on earth.
The presence of ++Katharine and +Mary also gives encouragement to those in the Church of England "establishment" who are trying to move the Church of England and the Communion itself into the Future.
- Encouragement - it can change
- Hope - it will change
- Support - we are not alone
In an urbane presentation +Michael argues that same-sex issues are second-order issues and that the difficulty with the Glasspool consecration is its timing; TEC has again failed to honour restraint. However, +Michael's clear trajectory is towards the acceptance of partnered gays and lesbians in the priesthood and episcopate in a plural (for now) church. [Emphasis added.]And there is also a credible rumor (if rumors can be credible) that David Cameron will soon be pressuring the Church of England to perform same-gender blessings. [See Selictive gay rights from the coalition.]
As for Lambeth Palace, well, its actions are not popular in England. They are an embarrassment to the English Church. A friend of mine worshiped in a parish in Yorkshire last Sunday. He wrote that
Nearly everyone in the congregation of about one-hundred came up to offer apologies for 'recent developments in the Communion' and to assure me that the people in the pews are TEC's friends. The most repeated comment was 'Please tell your friends that the [Lambeth] doesn't speak for most of the Church of England'.
Of the coming Messiah, Isaiah said
The bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. Isaiah 42.3 Douay-Rheims
We must leave in a procession carrying the banner of Christ unfurled singing "We walk the King's Highway". Hymnal, 647 Our witness will be untarnished and the world will take note of how we acted in all of this and it will be counted to us as righteousness.
We shall continue to "to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners". Isaiah 61.1 NAS
Enduring the insults is the price of prophetic mission. Are we willing to pay that price? Our presiding bishop appears to be willing. Jesus was, too. Can we do less?
Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22 NSA