Monday, July 21, 2008

Outside the Gate

I think I must have suffered a spiritual spasm yesterday. Or maybe for the last few days. It is still here today – like a nasty hangover. The week before Lambeth was filled with a certain anticipation that something good would come of it. Lambeth began and the longing to be there only increased. Avidly I watched the blogs, waiting and hoping for some vital signs that would appease the gnawing inside of me.

I don’t know if it helped or if it hurt that the Rev. Mike Kinman was celebrating and preaching at the 9:15 service I attend. Whichever was the case, I know that it brought all that was boiling inside of me to a head. The gospel for the day dealt with the issue of weeds and wheat. Mike suggested that if the weeds are yanked out, it is likely that a portion of the wheat will come with it. Not only that, but that we put ourselves in real danger when we think that we can determine who is a weed…especially, if we feel that we are the wheat.

I venture to say that most LGBT people know what it is like to be considered a weed. Many women understand that also. African Americans, Hispanics, homeless people, abused people…not only do many know what it is like to be considered a weed, many people feel too often that they are the weed.

How can we stand up, day after day, resisting what our cultures, our societies tell us…that we are indeed weed and that life would be much simpler if they could just pluck us from their midst and be done once and for all. And on top of all the negative, the Church adds to it by its silence or lack of action.

I keep waiting and watching to see if Bishop Smith writes anything about Bishop Gene Robinson. I so hope that he attended the Changing Attitudes/Integrity service led by Colin Coward and Susan Russell to pray for the success of Lambeth. I understand that he is trying to be very prayerful and maintain a listening mode. I also understand that a major idea is to work toward a consensus.

I believe that the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to run a conference that is Christ-centered. I know that much is going on that I will never read about. In this beginning, they are all just trying to get in touch with their prayer-selves so that they can all come into the conversation with Christ first and foremost in their thoughts and hearts. I applaud that. But I grow weary of waiting for the time when those who do hold some modicum of power will exercise it. Patience may be a virtue but I do believe that LBGT Christians have been very patient for a very long time.

What has been determined at Lambeth is that the “weed” and the “wheat” shall not intermingle. Bishop Gene Robinson has been declared a weed and therefore not worthy of being amongst the wheat. Those who are the “wheat” need to speak to the issue of their own roots being yanked out because someone has torn the weed from their midst.

There are those who would claim that bishops from the other end of the spectrum were not invited either. But there is a difference between Bishop Robinson and the likes of Martin Minns. Minns was appointed by Archbishop Peter Akinola as a bishop of CANA to preside over those in the United States who were dissatisfied with the Episcopal Church. Bishop Gene Robinson was called and elected by the people of the Diocese of New Hampshire and approved and consecrated by those bishops in the Episcopal Church. Major difference. For those in charge of Lambeth to have decided that Bishop Gene Robinson was too much of a problem, too controversial, too much of a “weed” was, for lack of a better, bigger word…just wrong.

Hopefully, when the U.S. bishops gather in their own “not a House of Bishops” meeting, they will speak to the issue of one of their own being yanked out. Pray that they will speak not only to the pain that this causes them and Gene Robinson, but also to the pain that this is causing those of us at home who watch and wait and listen…powerless yet passionately.

“[the weeds] are [being stacked outside] your gates, O Jerusalem” waiting to be allowed inside. (Psalm 122) There are too many of us waiting for a time when we will be allowed to grow alongside of those considered 'the wheat'. Our roots are entangled, never to be free of one another. Let us grow together.


Mike said...

I always realize after the fact how imperfect my preaching is (particularly when going without a text!). Thanks for this wonderfully honest and beautiful post ... and for your wonderfully honest and beautiful comments during the sermon on Sunday. One of the things I love about Locust Street Worship is the opportunity to have the whole congregation participate in the sermon ... and I am never disappointed because moments of great grace ALWAYS happen. God worked through you to provide one of those on Sunday.

That you and many, many others are made to feel like weeds is truly original sin ... it's people putting themselves in the place of God. Frankly, Schroedter spoke some amazing truth on Sunday when he said (in the way a child only can) that "I just figure there's wheat in everyone!". That's the Gospel.

I believe the root of the problems in the Anglican Communion is not how we interpret scripture or what we believe about human sexuality or anything like that. It's our ability to objectify each other and our inability to encounter one another as full, complex, frustrating, gifted, joyful, pained, amazing, disappointing, and maybe especially humorous human beings.

That is the message we have for the church, the Communion and the world. It's why I work on the MDGs ... not because it's checking something off my do-gooder list, but because at the heart of those goals is the recognition that each individual person is a precious gift to be treasured. That even though it seems simpler to write people off when they make our lives more uncomfortable or complex ("pull the weeds") that really we are tearing ourselves out of the ground when we do that.

So I go back to the question I asked you all on Sunday. How does this play out at the Cathedral? You spoke wonderfully about ways you believe we are already witnessing to this better way ... just as others spoke about ways where we are falling short.

I think we begin by making sure it's a place where it's OK to say "I feel like the world is saying I'm a weed" or for someone else to say "I feel like I've been treating this person like a weed" or for someone else to say and even for someone to go Peter Finch and say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!" And then we deal with it. We deal with it openly, honestly, for as long as it takes until we are the field that we and the world can look at and not see wheat and weeds but a beautiful and diverse crop grown to feed the world.

Wow ... this is much too long for a comment. I'm so glad you all are with us at LSW. God knew what she was doing when she brought you here.

Barbi Click said...

Mike...I cannot begin to tell you what your post means to me. I can only say, thank you.
Thank you.
You are a blessing for which we give great thanks.