Monday, June 05, 2006
Yesterday I setup a General Convention Table for all the Truro Sunday services. I had a bunch of different things out on the table to help people prepare for General Convention, articles, books, and materials to help pray for the gathering in Columbus next week. It was a beautiful day, spring-like, puffy clouds, warm with a light breeze, positively brilliant. I enjoyed talking with the different folks who came up to the table, answering questions, asking questions, and listening to people express their thoughts and feelings.
Martyn Minns, rector of Truro, offered a brilliant way to approach GC-2006 at his Rector's Forum on Sunday morning. It's called "The Three R's." What are we looking for at General Convention:
1. We are looking not for regret or remorse, but repentance Repentance means giving it up, turning around, admitting that what General Convention 2003 did was wrong and we're not going to do it anymore. To do anything less, as many of the General Convention leadership are promoting, is like one who has stolen a car - one may regret it, may even be remorseful, but one does not keep the car. One does not make a deal to only steal one or two cars a month and that's all. Martyn also used the analogy of the spouse caught in adultery. The spouse may be remorseful, but the spouse cannot then say "well, I'll only commit adultery once a while," or "I'll wait a while before I commit adultery again." No, the issue is repentance. We regret what we did, it was wrong, and we will not do it anymore. That is repentance.
2. We are looking for reaffirmation of the biblical view best expressed in Lambeth 1.10. This is the statement of the Anglican Communion through the Lambeth Conference, one of the major instruments of unity in our communion. The Episcopal Church should reaffirm Lambeth 1.10.
3. We are looking for rollback. We have all ready gone too far. The presenting issue is human sexuality, but underlying the issue, the foundational issue is the authority of scripture and revelation. We have replaced the scriptures with personal experience and the Holy Spirit with the spirit of the age. This is tearing apart not only the Episcopal Church, but the fabric of the Anglican Communion. The majority of the Anglican Communion holds firm to the Scriptures. They don't just say it, they live it - and sometimes, they die for it. The Scriptures are the Word of God, no less than that. We don't throw out the bits we don't like or we find uncomfortable or don't conform with this present age. We need to rollback and dig deep to the foundation of our Christian faith as revealed in the Word and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
So we take to Columbus "The Three R's." The rest is yet to come.
Why go? Why give the Episcopal Church one more opportunity to repent, reaffirm, and rollback?
As I stood behind the table, I saw an extraordinary witness to the power of God's transforming love, of His mercy, and of His amazing redemption. All around Truro teemed with life, with mission, with ministry, with community, with joy, and love. Though we do not the future, we are confident in the One who does, our Lord Jesus, who broke the chains of slavery and set the captives free.
As I stood behind the table, I saw before me the reason why I am going to General Convention. In front of me was a witness that encouraged my own heart that has been breaking over the willful actions of our denomination. This past weekend was the Alpha Weekend Away, where guests and the team learned about the Holy Spirit. On Sunday morning you could see in the faces of those who were on the weekend evidence that they had been filled with the Holy Spirit and now were on fire with love for Jesus and His people. The joy was all over them.
I could see "40 Days" groups gathering for "family photos" on the steps, a wide variety of folks from all walks of life, young and old, laughing, arms around one another, enjoying one in another in their life with Christ as they had their pictures taken.
Next to me was the Vacation Bible Camp sign-up, where hundreds of children were signing up not only for camp, but also to send blankets to children in need.
Down below in the Courtyard was the Missions Fair, were Truro Mission Associates from all over the world, local, national, and global, were gathered at booths, sharing with everyone what God is doing in their ministries and inviting Truro folks to come join them.
All around me children were playing, laughing, throwing balls, jumping up and down, and just so at home in the church it was like their own home. God is alive and working through His people - He will not leave or forget us. The witness of these folks at Truro on Sunday morning reminded me over and over and over again that God is faithful, He is resilient, He is powerful, He is loving, and kind, and compassionate, and merciful, and true. I take their witness with me to Columbus. They demonstrated to me how repentance changes lives, how reaffirmation restores our lives, and how rolling back and digging deep into the foundations of the church, the Cornerstone Himself, gives us a solid place to stand.
Thanks be to God.