We are having a week of 24/7 prayer. Many people have signed up for an hour or two to pray for the church, community and ministries.
It's been an enormous encouragement to see so many offer themselves to this. Indeed, there seems to be something of a thirst for prayer at the moment. The Wednesday morning prayer meeting (breakfast at 7am, followed by an hour of prayer until 8.15am) saw seventeen people in attendance last week.
In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us--that we be men and
women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is
everything and for whom God is enough. That is the root of peace.
The AB of C is off to New Orleans for a visit to the bishops of The Episcopal Church. They will try to reassure him that they are complying with the requests of the Dar Es Salaam Communique as much as they can, but that their polity prevents them from rolling back the clock and undoing what has been done.
Will Rowan buy it? Maybe. Will the Global South primates? Doubtful. Can there yet be healing for the Anglican Communion? I hope and pray so.
Two scenarios can change the situation in the Anglican Communion.
The first is where the reappraisers change their mind about now being the time to inplement innovations or the reasserters change their mind and find a way of permitting those who want to innovate to do so. The problem with this scenario is that, in human terms, its difficult to see how both sides can step back from their positions.
As I have watched matters unfold in the Anglican Communion, it has become clearer that at the heart of all this issues are questions about power. Who has it and how is it used?
In the United States, as in many northern provinces, the reins of power are firmly in the hands of reappraisers. So conventions, synods and committees are dominated by people with a reappraising theology. The prevailing ethos and direction of the Church is dictated by this theology. So much so that reasserters feel powerless and lost.
It also becomes difficult for reasserters to feel that their understandings have a place in the Church. This is in part because the issues for both sides are about Truth. For example, as the ordination of women to the priesthood became possible, supposedly in a process of reception (which could be reversed?), it became unthinkable to even question the possibility that women shouldn't be ordained. Indeed in some provinces, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to get ordained if one was against the ordination of women. This reveals how new direction or doctrine, can quite quickly become de facto the only acceptable position to hold.
Of course, the ordination of women, has not been a communion-breaking issue as, for many reasserters, it is seen as adiaphora. Some would want to cast the issue of same-sex relationships in the same way. Even if it could be (and I'm not convinced it can), how would the integrity of the reasserters' position be preserved? In Scotland, when it was decided to proceed with the ordination of women to the priesthood, the only protection given to Anglo-Catholics' consciences was an assurance that those who could not in conscience agree with the decision ... "would continue for all time to come to have a valued and respected place within the Scottish Episcopal Church". Thirteen years down the line, would a person holding such views get selected for ordained ministry? Be elected as bishop?
Similarly, if those who want to change the teaching and practice of the church in relation to sexuality see their vision become reality, what would be put in place to ensure that the reasserting view still had a place? Once power is applied, the reappraisers will take the long view, make soothing noises and wait for the reasserters to eventually die out.
The reasserters know this scenario, for they have seen it played out before over the ordination of women. That's why in the United States congregations have pulled out of TEC. They see what is coming and they feel completely lost and powerless. It is possible that whole dioceses will join them in the near future.
This is where the second scenario comes in.
What if there was another way? If only the powerbrokers in the TEC had seen the problems ahead and said, 'We recognise that this is contentious and we want to canonically protect you from this causing your conscience difficulty. We will set up alternative episcopal oversight that is acceptable to you and not require you to do anything that you see as being detrimental to the Faith, including bankrolling our agenda'.
That would have been magnanimous, gracious and difficult to refuse. It might also have opened up the possibility of both sides admitting weakness, vulnerability and the possibility of being wrong.
However, this introduces the concept of two integrities co-existing alongside one another in the same Church, and for some that is not acceptable, because their side must win at all costs. Justice and/or Truth demands it.
At the moment, the game is 'winner takes all'. In the days when our congregation had an annual Sunday School picnic, the day culminated in a grand game of 'Rounders', during which my sole purpose was to ensure that my side won. We played hard, but as the game moved towards finishing, I would invariably call an end to the match, by declaring it a draw, even though my side was clearly winning. It was slightly less satisfying than an all-out victory, but we enjoyed playing and no-one left feeling they were losers. Can such a bold and innovative solution be found for the Communion and its individual provinces? Maybe a wee Province somewhere will have the vision to set such an example?
Eight of us gathered, and I admit to being quite tired as we began. The 7am Wednesday prayer meeting makes for a long day.
Edward had us working on texts such as Acts 2:14-36, trying to find the big idea in the passage. This involved taking the original context seriously, discerning the main theme and aim of the passage. He then helped us to think a little about structuring our sermons.
As we engaged with the Bible passages, I found myself waking up and being refreshed by the exercises set for us. We were reminded of the sloppy preparation methods that so many preachers adopt and we were encouraged to 'marinate in the Word'.
All in all, it was a tonic, and just what I needed to hear, for I'm preaching twice on Sunday and today will find me in a state of complete marination.
These storks can be found in Slottsskogen, Gothenburg.
With 274 acres, this is the largest park in the city. First laid out in 1874 in a naturally wooded area, today it
has beautiful walks, animal enclosures, a saltwater pool, bird ponds,
and an aviary, as well as a children's zoo (open May to August).