Thursday, July 30, 2009

Learning from Wilberforce

Today the Church invites us to remember and celebrate the life of William Wilberforce, whose work as a prophet so challenged the accepted ethics of his day that they were changed forever, and so at the Eucharist this morning I found myself reading

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus..."

Wonderful, inspiring, beloved words....but painful this week, when divisions seem to loom in all directions...

There have been some thoughtful and helpful posts (try Rick's Green Grass - and the commments too - or With a Song... for expressions of bafflement and disappointment, or more philosophically A Church for Starving Artists to name but 3) as well as a huge upsurge of anger and grief in response to Archbishop Rowan's comments on General Convention...
I'm struggling to discover where the Rowan Williams I've long loved and admired has gone to...and what can possibly be the right way forward for those committed to an inclusive church but still working within the ever harsher reality of the Church of England.
I have not an heroic bone in my body, but I can't see where people like me belong (straight, married, "safe" in every way except for my convictions...)
Will there be an inclusive C of E, with alternative ArchiEpiscopal oversight? ...
How have we found ourselves so far off course that it is possible to even begin to imagine a world in which ++Rowan might find himself aligned with the churches of the Global South?
I am not sure whether I'm more sad than scared or vice versa - while recognising that for the majority in my congregations this whole thing is a complete non issue, so remote from their own concerns that they'd not begin to understand that it might be a make or break matter for their priest....

And as if that wasn't enough, this week we've heard (here for example) that Blackburn Cathedral has decided to offer two versions of the Sacrament at Sunday Mass. If you prefer your Communion with no risk of female taint, then it is possible to join a queue for elements from the Reserved Sacrament, guaranteed to have been consecrated by a man even when the President at the Sunday Mass is a woman.

What price Galatians 3 now?

eta Thanks to Sarah for alerting me to a very helpful reflection by Scott Gunn here
I'm not sure how much better it made me feel, but at least it offered a respite from some of the vitriole I've encountered on the net this week.


Songbird said...

That's a shocking development. I'm just sad to hear it.

Crimson Rambler said...

When I was first allowed to distribute the sacrament in the church where I was a curate, the Rector would take half the rail and I took half. We noticed that parishioners were hastening to cross the centre aisle to line up on the side where Fr. J was distributing. He would wait until they had committed themselves, then wink at me and say, "Swap with me?" and we would change sides.
The parish quickly learned that their antics were both visible and unacceptable, and the nonsense stopped.
About Wilberforce, there is a little verse in "Episcopal Haiku" by Sarah Goodyear and Ed Weissman:

The Church of England's
Wilberforce freed the Empire's
slaves without a war.

it bears a lot of reflection.

Sarah said...

Oh Kathryn, I too was baffled by ++R. I was less upset when I read Scott Gunn's reflection,'catholic, covenant and chosen lifestyles. (Sorry I don't know how to do links, you will find it on the thinking anglicans blog.) I have some wonderful evangelical friends who like me would love to be able to bless loving gay relationships openly, they are feeling equally hurt by all this. As a liberal catholic I am used to being told I am not a proper Christan, they are not and my heart bleeds for them. I am trying very hard to love my church at the moment.
As for does the dean stand for it. When I fist arrived in the parish and was'told' I couldn't put host in the aumbrey my wonderful vicar said they would have to play russian roulette.

Serena said...

"I have not an heroic bone in my body, but I can't see where people like me belong (straight, married, "safe" in every way except for my convictions...)"

Exactly. I'm not even Anglican and I'm disappointed. And as someone who feels both evangelical (in a very broad sense) and pro-loving committed relationships for our LBGT brother and sisters, I was so hoping the Anglican church could start to show a way forward...

Mary Beth said...

That (Blackburn) makes me sick. Literally.

mibi52 said...

It is a hard time, isn't it? I am under consideration for a rectorship in another diocese. A member of the search committee asked if I would be comfortable in a diocese that has a reputation for being way out in front of the rest in terms of full inclusion of LGBT folks (Songbird would know immediately the diocese of which I speak)...and of course I am, it's part of who I think I am as a follower of the Christ who embraced all...but how sad that we have come to a point where the question needed to be asked.

And how sad that ++Rowan has felt he needed to sacrifice what I believe is his personal belief in the interest of holding together a tapestry that is already rent asunder by others.

As for the Blackburn thing, I thought donatism was resolved in the early days of the church - even if you have questions about the person administering the sacrament (and I don't think genitalia are used in the process, as I recall)- the validity of the sacrament still remains.

The mind boggles. And the word verification is "paryo," or "O Pray" all mixed up.