Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lord I Want to Shine

I am rather sad today. Maybe it is just the discombobulating sense of having been gone for ten days and now I am returning to a routine. Or maybe I am missing my family. Or maybe it is the intense sadness of the church we experience here in St. Louis versus the one we experienced last Sunday at Good Shepherd Granbury in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

I knew it was bad there. I lived it, experienced it, existed within it all my Episcopal life. Yet, to see it as a visiting non-member…there is a vast difference.

How easy it is to get used to women as priests! How simple it is to slip into inclusive language! How strange it is to be slammed in the face by the white maleness of the priesthood and the patriarchal language of the liturgy!

Throughout our travels, the question that arose constantly was, “How do you stay in the Church?” Before I moved to St. Louis, the answer was fairly simple, “I love the liturgy and there is no other choice.” During times of adversity, one grows spiritually. We all know this to be true.
However…I seriously wonder if I could move back to Fort Worth as it is at this time. Having experienced the fullness of the Church outside that geographic area, I wonder…could I become involved once again in that smallness?

While we were in Fort Worth, a letter from two parishioners from Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, our parish while we were there, wrote a six page letter to all the parishioners of Good Shepherd in Granbury, the parish where my parents now attend. There is a good size group of members who have stated boldly and calmly, in peace and in love that they do not want to follow the bishop wherever he may go ; rather, they wish to remain within the Episcopal Church as faithful members of that church. In fact, they call themselves Remain Episcopal Granbury. Their priest has been known to say that this group is “reprehensible” and that their congregation is now “diseased”.

This couple from Trinity in Fort Worth decided to write to the members of Good Shepherd with the idea that they had a right to do so since they attend the parish whenever they visit their lake house in the area. They felt they had the right to write to all the parishioners there because they were “shocked to discover” that Good Shepherd had been “infected” with the “bug”.

The Werley’s contend that there are three types of people in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth:
1) Those who support the “gay agenda” and actively seek to “incorporate homosexuality” into “our church”.
2) The “pew sitters” – those who do not necessarily agree with TEC but as “Good Episcopalians” prefer “to do nothing” and “avoid conflict”
3) And last, there are those “who see what is happening, are willing to take a stand for our Savior and confront those who are preaching anything other than the Gospel in His name…”
The couple also contend that they are of the last sort.
Cora once told me before that she loves me but that we are all sinners and all fall short of the glory of God.

So true…so true. Of course, I have a tendency to be a bit wary of people who like to quote that line. It always makes me think that they believe their own sin to be far less than mine.

While I do miss my grandkids, parents and children greatly, I think that a great deal of my sorrow actually arises from my inability to see how to grow in the midst of the toxic atmosphere. I have breathed the Spirit in a safe environment. It is hard to breathe in Fort Worth or to feel the breath. The Spirit is held tightly in closed minds for fear that she will bring about change that would alter life as some know it (or imagine it). They think themselves safe as long as she is not allowed loose.

The nastiness of this letter tells me that they are running scared. They think that somehow somewhere someone let the Spirit out. Others saw her and like some of the changes that she is bringing about.

What they don’t realize is that once the Spirit escapes from the tightly locked minds, it is very difficult to stuff her back in.

Thanks be to God!

So…ok, I am not sad any more. In fact, maybe I am even hopeful. I realize as I write, that regardless of the small mindedness of some people within the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Spirit is dancing around, sneaking in every crack and crevice available, shining a light into the darkest corners.

Maybe one day those filled with the fear of gay cooties will allow her to touch them. We can make that our prayer.


Fr. Tom said...

A faithful Episcopalian would recognize "all sorts and conditions" of ALL PEOPLE as traditional Episcopalianism teaches. The Werly's and their ilk are anything but "traditional" Episcopalians.

But we must remember that all sorts and conditions makes room for the Werly's, the Iker's, the Louie Crew's, the homeless, the poor man, the prostitute, the junkie. And if we dig deep, we find that isn't just about being Episcopalian - it is following the commandments of Christ.

We pride ourselves that we do great things in the Church. Who cares how many committees we're on or how much money we give or if we even wear a collar around our necks. In the end, what matters is what we have done to help and to exhort our fellow man and woman. Faith without works is dead - we should remember.

May God be with the Werly's and the Iker's and the Crew's and the poor man and the prostitute and the junkie. God bless them all and bring them all to be of one body, one spirit. May we each be reminded daily of our baptismal COVENANT:

Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
People: I will, with God's help.
Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
People: I will, with God's help.
(BCP, pg. 305)

Lindy said...

Uh...just so you know, the answer is NO. You can't go back. Don't even try.

Barbi Click said...

Lindy...I don't want to believe that...but...