Thursday, December 13, 2007
Are You Prepared?
Maybe it's a slow night. Perhaps Advent - and the approach of 'Rose Sunday' and that magnificent collect for Advent III - is, well, 'stirring up' something in me. But, I found the following post by one of the premiere 'Bullies' to be instructive, if not sad and poignant.
It must be said that this essay is, all at once, quite ironic. That is most especially true in his point #2 about the ordination of women. Apparently, the author, as bright as he obviously is, and married, as he is, to an ordained woman, is unable to connect the dots between sexism and homophobia. ("There are none so blind as those who will not see.")
The following is a post from Matt Kennedy, a member of the Executive Board of the nefarious blog, "Stand Firm in Faith".
You'll want to go there and read the comments - especially his painfully obvious if not coy demure from telling all the details of the negotiations of his leave-taking with his bishop - well, 'his bishop' as long as he's still collecting a pension from TEC, leading worship in the church building, and living with his wife and four children in the rectory that is owned by the diocese.
But, be forewarned: Always, ALWAYS wear your best asbestos pumps and kevlar vest when traveling in 'Viagra Land'.
Clearly, the man has thought this through. His question at the end is to himself as much as to others. I appreciate his honesty - even if obtusely rendered. The seeds of the destruction of these schismatics are sown in the fundamentals of their theology, which, it must be admitted, has a logic and integrity of its own.
Read, and weep. And, pray without ceasing, for the church.
After reading this, I, myself, have never been more hopeful for my beloved Episcopal Church, a member now and forever, of The World Wide Anglican Communion, and a manifestation - as they, too, are and shall rightly be - of The Sacred Body of Christ .
Below are five inevitabilities and/or possibilities for which to be prepared when leaving the Episcopal Church for another Anglican jurisdiction within the Common Cause Partnership. Some of what is written below may not come to pass. But it could. Before setting out on any journey it is necessary to count the cost. Here is my contribution to that effort.
Five things for which to be prepared:
1. The possibility/probability of a North/South Communion-wide division that will leave you outside the Canterbury centered Anglican Communion. If you are a parish leader, please do not tell your people that the reason you are leaving the Episcopal Church is to remain in communion with Canterbury. Subsequent events may very well undermine your promises. If you leave, do so because you and those who follow you believe that there is no other faithful option
2. An uncomfortable compromise on women’s ordination. If you are opposed to Women’s ordination be prepared to coexist in the same body, though not in full communion, with ordained women and those who support their ordination. If you cannot do that because you believe the ordination of women to be a first order matter, then you will not likely last long in the Common Cause Partnership. If you are an ordained woman or support the ordination of women, be prepared to accept the end of the female ordinations to the priesthood. Prepare also for the unlikely but possible cessation of your own ministry. If you cannot do this under any circumstances because you think that Women’s Ordination is a first order issue, then you will not likely last long in the Common Cause Partnership.
3. Clergy must be prepared for poverty (in the American sense of the word which comparatively speaking is not quite so impoverished) and parishes for the loss of property. The Episcopal Church pension plan is a good one. If you are vested, they cannot take it away. But your contributions to it will cease and you cannot transfer it elsewhere. You must prepare for the loss of a comfortable parish rectory and/or parish endowment cushion, the loss of salary, and the possibility of part-time or full-time secular employment at least until your parish recovers from her (possible) loss of assets. Parishioners must be prepared and committed to worship anywhere. Some parishes will win in court. Others will be able to retain their property through negotiation. Many, if not most will lose their property and possibly their assets.
4. Both clergy and people must be prepared for evangelism. There were few if any dedicated church buildings in the first century. They seemed to manage just fine—and wasn’t because pagans were impressed with their liturgy. The apostles planted churches and the churches obeyed the Great Commission, individually and corporately, by sharing the gospel in their region not just by deed (that famous St. Francis quotation about preaching the gospel through deeds is true, but it can also serve as a rationale for not sharing your faith) but also by word. If the people in your parish are not prepared or equipped to share and proclaim Jesus Christ as King and Savior in the world, then you will probably not make it.
5. Both clergy and people must be prepared to obey their orthodox bishops even when they do not agree. There will not, in all likelihood, be the same sort of coercive power within Common Cause that exists in the Episcopal Church. The Common Cause Partnership will not sue for your property if you choose to depart. That means that while there may be ecclesial consequences for disobedience, there will likely be no legal/financial consequences. This is both good and dangerous. It is good because it prevents the sort of unjust authoritarianism currently exercised by the Presiding Bishop and her legal consigliere. It is dangerous because it opens the way for sin. Those, especially those of us in revisionist dioceses, have learned to live and act as if there were no king in the land. Those days are over. There are now bishops to whom we owe loyalty, obedience, support and respect. It will mean godly submission in all things.
Are you prepared?