As some of you who read this blog know, there was some important news from Navasota, Texas Tuesday, March 20th. I knew nothing of this Tuesday night when I began to write in my notebook:
March 20, 2007
The first night of spring.
I’m writing this at my mother’s. I’ll have to type it in when I get back because for once I didn’t bring my computer.
A lot has happened since I last posted.
The Presiding Bishop declared the election of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina to be “null and void.” More on that a little further on.
On Friday, March 16th, about a dozen folks participated in the Great Litany and the Supplication, with additional collects, sung in procession opposite the United Nations. Four of us were from St. Mary’s and two from the Episcopal chaplaincy at Columbia University. There were a few people from the Episcopal Church Center at815 Second Avenue which is only a block away. The weather was terrible – it was cold, windy, and sleeting.. I was pressed into service as crucifer. Singing the Litany in procession is an antiwar witness we at St. Mary’s have been doing each Lent since the buildup to the invasion of Iraq four years ago. We’ll do it again this week – the weather promises to be better.
On Sunday, Liz and I were readers at the 10 AM service. I read about the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan – I did not update the text to say
“The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land, and the Israelis no longer had manna; they ate the crops of the land of the Palestinians from that year.”
Liz read 2 Corinthians:
“If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”Then on Sunday afternoon, Liz and I marched for peace with thousands of others here in New York. There were about eight of us from St. Mary’s – at least two were there because Liz spoke passionately at our announcement time about the importance of marching – at St. Mary’s announcements come between the blessing and the dismissal.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.I don’t know whether this is a far out interpretation or not, but when I ponder 2 Corinthians 5:21, I think of it as a liberative view of the atonement: God made Jesus to be a sinless sin offering so that we might show forth God’s righteousness. Not so that we might be made right with God – that would be tautological – but so that we, all of us, might become God’s righteousness.
So that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
There was a substantial religious contingent in Sunday’s march for peace. We were being God’s righteousness in that place. Of course we weren’t stopping the occupation – we were only bearing witness. But there is more than one way to be the righteousness of God.
It must have been over a week ago that MadPriest said in a comment that those on the other side in the current troubles in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are evil and that they have chosen to follow Satan and they know it. Since I don’t have my computer right now, I can’t check my recollection and find out exactly what he said. I myself be am sure that those who are out to split TEC and the Anglican Communion are under satanic influence (or the influence of the “powers” as William Stringfellow and Walter Wink put it.) I cannot be as certain as MadPriest that they are knowingly following Satan.
The powers were certainly at work in the election of Mark Lawrence and the debacle over consents to his election. The presenting issue for much of the church was whether Fr. Lawrence could unequivocally state that he would not lead South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church. Apparently he got the consents of a majority of the Standing Committees, but not enough of the consents were in the form that our canons have required since 1799. The responsibility for getting sufficient consents from Standing Committees and in the proper form rests with the Standing Committee of the electing diocese, In this case, at the very least, it appears that the Standing Committee of South Carolina fell down on the job. The result is pain for Fr. Lawrence and his family, pain for a lot of others, and a black eye not just for South Carolina but for the Episcopal Church. That’s the powers at work.
And that’s the end of what I wrote out by hand on Tuesday night.
Then on the way home, I tried to formulate my thoughts about the issues the bishops were addressing at Camp Allen. I came up with something like this:
Those who attempt to define progressive Christians as “reappraisers” and themselves as “reasserters” are either self-deluded or disingenuous. Reappraisal is at the heart of the gospel – “You have heard it said ... but I I say....” And it isn’t just Jesus who gets to reappraise, even in scripture. And at the same time, reassertion is also at the heart of the gospel – “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
TEC (along with other so-called “liberal “ churches) needs to clearly articulate cogent hermeneutical principles to support our assertion and belief that the justice teachings of scripture trump the “texts of terror.” It would also be helpful for the church to openly criticize the common prejudicial translations in Corinthians and Timothy.
In this matter, becoming the righteousness of God means bearing witness and standing up for the full humanity and equality of women and of LGBT people both inside and outside of the church. Women’s rights and LGBT rights are linked – so are violence against women and LBGT people. And both are linked to issues of race and class. I need to explore this topic more – right now I am concerned with what will come out of the meeting of the bishops of TEC.
Those are some of my thoughts from the three hour car trip home.
Then I got home, and when I discovered the statements that had come form the House of Bishops on March 20, I was astounded and happy. A few days ago, Elizabeth Kaeton wrote that the schism has already happened. That was not a new thought -- but it is good way to name a rwal truth. I am pleased that the majority of the bishops of TEC recognize the truth that underlies that thought and have chosen not to engage in the dysfunctional and unAnglican dance the Primates have asked us to join.