There are two pieces of good news from The Episcopal Church this week.
The first came from the Diocese of Virginia. This just in from Margaret+, over at "leave it lay where Jesus flang it", who writes that not only is bishop Johnston calling for a Bishop Suffragan by April, 2012, and, and, AND. . .
". . . the internalized oppression of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers has begun to break apart -- we have a year to work on the details... and then in 2012 the blessing of these Christian unions--households--families that endure such wicked discrimination may begin.Bishop Johnston's Pastoral Address put it this way:
You may remember that I have always affirmed that committed, monogamous same-gender relationships can indeed be faithful in the Christian life. Therefore, I plan also to begin working immediately with those congregations that want to establish the parameters for the “generous pastoral response” that the 2009 General Convention called for with respect to same-gender couples in Episcopal churches.I don't need to tell you that this is HUGE. Humongous!
Personally, it is my hope that the 2012 General Convention will authorize the formal blessing of same-gender unions for those clergy in places that want to celebrate them. Until then, we might not be able to do all that we would want to do but, in my judgment, it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can.
Virginia has long seen itself - and has been seen by others - as claiming the "Middle Ground" between the "Progressives" on either coast and the so-called "Orthodox".
Yes, yes. The cynics among us may tut-tut and tsk-tsk and say, "The train had already left the station. Nice to have them on board."
Well, here's my response to that: Justice delayed may well be justice denied, but when justice finally comes, it's always Good News. Even if, in Bishop Johnson's words, ". . . we might not be able to do all that we would want to do but, in my judgment, it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can."
All aboard the train bound for Justice! We're not there yet, but we're headed in the right direction.
As if that weren't enough, yesterday came the news of victory in the Diocese of Fort Worth, TX.
Here's the money quote from ENS:
"A Texas judge on Jan. 21 ordered a dissident group to return "all property, as well as control of the diocesan corporation" within 60 days to the Episcopalian leaders in Fort Worth who have remained loyal to the Episcopal Church.That means that by Easter, all those who have remained faithful to The Episcopal Church, who did not follow former Episcopal Bishop Jack Iker to the Southern Cone in the Anglican Communion, will be able to celebrate a most joyful Feast of the Resurrection in their own "home" churches.
And, if any of the ones who DID transfer over to the Southern Cone want to return, well, there's always time to jump on board the train bound for Justice.
So, back to the lessons from the lectionary. Just listen to the opening words from Isaiah for Epiphany III:
The people who walked in darknessTo this, the Psalmist (27)joyfully sings a response:
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness--
on them light has shined.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;St. Paul, in his letter to the ancient church in Corinth, appeals to them that. . .
whom then shall I fear? *
the LORD is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?
One thing have I asked of the LORD;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days
of my life;
To behold the fair beauty of the LORD *
and to seek him in his temple.
". . .all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose."See what I mean?
It's as if the lectionary lessons were written for this week in the life of The Episcopal Church.
Stop quarreling. You are all united in Christ.
Insight will come and it will shine almost as brightly as the end of the darkness will for those who have been oppressed. It won't be the whole enchilada, but as Susan Russell once said about another step forward in justice, there's enough guacamole in there to make it work.
For God is our Light and our salvation. Happy are those who seek God - not their own glory or possessions - in God's temple.
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."Don't like the path you've been on? Repent! Turn around. Change your direction. Start making the journey toward the Realm of God.
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea-- for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
As you go, take a few friends with you. Help them to become disciples of Christ.
Then all of you keep yourselves busy, teaching, preaching and healing and, next time you look up, you'll find that the Realm of God has come even nearer.
All aboard the Justice Train, making stops through Virginia and Fort Worth, and bound for glory!
Isn't this just an amazing time to be a Christian who is an Episcopalian?