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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Saturday, December 30, 2006

"Full, free and absolute pardon"

In 1974, we didn't need a firebrand, or a hero, or star. We needed a leader who was solid and good and trustworthy.

In that moment of history, we needed Gerald Rudolph Ford, "the gentleman from Michigan."

Thanks be to God, that is the leader we received.

A man of deep civility and sound judgement, he came to the presidency unelected to lead a nation divided - called upon to bind our nation's wounds, inflicted by the double-edged sword of Viet Nam and Watergate.

He was an honest and decent man, a man of dignity and grace.

And yet . . .and yet . . .

I am not ashamed to admit that I am old enough to clearly remember the day the newly appointed (but not elected) President of the United States, Gerald Ford, accorded his predecessor, Richard Millhouse Nixon, a "full, free and absolute pardon" for the part he played in the Watergate Conspiracy.

I remember yelling at the television set words that should never be repeated in public.

I was outraged!

I was appalled!

I was thoroughtly, completely, absolutely disgusted!

And yet . . .and yet . . .

Gerald Ford knew then what I thought I knew at that time, indeed, thought I have always know, but what I have only just come to understand in the deepest level of my soul: that forgiveness is essential if healing is to occur.

I have come to know that this is an important, essential, critical lesson to learn in these days of tumult in our church and in the Anglican Communion.

Is our beloved church, our communion, distressed by heresies and by schism torn asunder?

Depsite those who wait for an "official declaration," of this as a fact of our common life of faith, there is no doubt.

Are there those in our church, in our communion, who are equally as corrupt and self-serving as those involved in the Watergate scandle?

Indeed. To our shame and consternation, indeed.

Are there those in our church, in our communion, who covet honor and praise and glory for themselves more and less for God?

Their actions are a more powerful testimony than their protests are to the contrary.

And yet . . .and yet . . .

When this time in the days of our lives is over, when all is said and done and the Anglican Communion becomes what God has had in mind for Her since its inception, and The Episcopal Church becomes more of what She has always been, it will come to this:

We need to be able to provide a "full, free and absolute pardon" to those who have done whatever they have done - no matter how misguided - for the love of God and their understanding of the good of the Church.

It will be what is needed - desperately needed - for the healing of our Church and the Communion.

Turns out, it takes the sort of "Anglican pragmatism," embodied in Gerald R. Ford's politics, which healed our nation then to heal our church now.

May we, like President Ford, live into the common, ordinary stuff of our humanity to become extraordinary vehicles of the love and healing and forgiveness and peace of God, which passes all human understanding.


Saint Pat said...


Here's to President Ford!

Deborah Sproule said...

Blessed be Her divine child Jesus, our Savior Christ who gives us access to healing through repentance and forgiveness.