Romans 14:13-23 Do Not Make Another Stumble
I find the Epistle reading for the day interesting in light of the news of the Archbishop of Sudan’s statement yesterday. “Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.”
I suppose that the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson and all the other gay and lesbian clergy and lay persons in the Church could be seen as a stumbling block to many of the African nations’ bishops, including both those boycotting and those attending Lambeth. I suppose, if one were to really try hard, one could even interpret the actions of TEC to be a stumbling block for Jack Iker.
If our African brother or sister is being injured by what we, as lesbians and gays in the Episcopal Church are doing, well, then, I suppose that could be seen as not walking in love. Yet, what are we doing that would cause injury to our fellow African Christian brothers and sisters? Are we rallying one tribe against another? Are we coming into their villages and killing and burning? Are we raping their daughters, mothers, sons, and fathers? Are we causing the famine? Are we withholding our love, money and physical presence from them? Are we working against them when they shame us?
Or are we raising money to dig wells so that women do not have to spend the majority of their days walking to and from the water source so that they might have water for their families? Or are we selling their goods in our parishes and bookstores so that they might support themselves through their own work? Or are we not only raising money but walking among the Africans to share what we have to share in hopes of helping them build their own lives? Are we not walking amongst them at considerable risk to our own safety?
“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and mutual edification.”
Jack Iker taught me many things and for that I will always be grateful. He taught me that regardless of the tyranny, a person can still find God. He taught me that regardless of the hatred surrounding a person, that person can still live in love. Jack taught me that regardless of the stumbling blocks that one diocese can place in front of a person, God can remove all of these and still guide the one who desires only to be led. So, as I have stated on many occasions, I give thanks for Jack Iker…especially for his lack of ministry. His ways can definitely be seen as stumbling blocks for many, both inside and outside of Fort Worth.
In an effort of peace and mutual edification, I state that the stumbling blocks that are being placed in front of these African bishops, including the Archbishop of Sudan, are not blocks placed there by Bishop Gene Robinson nor TEC nor any gay or lesbian member of the Church of England or Canada or TEC. The stumbling blocks are set there by those people who seek their own non-divine will to be the power over all at all costs. The bishop attending Lambeth calling for all those who support Gene Robinson to return home – whose only reason for being at Lambeth is subterfuge and plotting to undermine the Communion as a whole – this is not walking in love; rather it is walking in a sadness that is truly fearsome.
For any who believe that Iker is truly concerned with the Africans from Sudan, Nigeria, Uganda or Kenya…I say it is time to wake up; the dream is over. As the Times Online stated in today’s paper, “The statements from Dr Deng and Bishop Iker show that the Archbishop of Canterbury's attempt to unite his warring bishops by sequestering them in a three-day retreat at Canterbury have failed." (See the article here.) I do believe that this is possibly a major stumbling block for which Jack seems to take responsibility, almost pride.
I wonder at a person’s desire for power being so great that he is so ready to be highlighted as a spokesperson for the undermining of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s effort to bring about reconciliation within the Anglican Communion. I wonder at a bishop’s main claim to fame being that he wishes to make certain women are not welcome as priests and bishops anywhere in the Communion. What a legacy!
Which stumbling block is the greater? The desire to keep faithful women, gays and lesbians out of the Church or the desire to live as faithful witnesses of God’s blessed steadfast love doing the work that Jesus taught us to do? I think that the little phrase of “Woe to you, Pharisees” is especially appropriate at this particular moment in time.