Saturday, December 08, 2007

Morning Thoughts

Mark Harris has posted a very kind comment on the "Evening Thoughts" post from Friday night. It's gotten me to think this morning as I am preparing to return to the CANA Council what the hope had been when the Virginia congregations had voted almost exactly a year ago to separate from the Episcopal Church. It's come to mind again reading the Standstill Agreement after nearly a year. Bishop Lee had said at the Diocesan Council of 2006 that he wanted to find a way that we all could be in the closest communion as possible. That had been the goal, with the hope that one day we'd be reunited (as the Reformed Episcopal Church has now reunited with the Common Cause Partners). The separation would mean that the churches (and the diocese) could - as Bishop Lee said - "get on with it." Get on with ministry - which is what I was seeing yesterday at the CANA Council, a move toward normalcy, a move to return to the focus of ministry of the Gospel call of the Church - to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.

But they are only baby steps for the reality is that the crisis continues to deepen. I've posted the live feed of the San Joaquin convention that is also going on this weekend, with a historical vote scheduled to take place today and that reminds us how the crisis continues to deepen.

That there could be worship, gospel worship in the midst of the crisis I found truly amazing. Some of the friendships at council have stood the test of time over decades, some are brand new. The stories of the Nigerian churches opened our eyes to the wider world, the wider church, where for so many of the Nigerians are filled with concern for their loved ones back home. They came to America like strangers in a strange land, sojourners, and their stories are also both inspiring and sad. I found my heart in strangely familiar territory as I listened to the stories, from American-born and Nigerian-born Christians who found their homeland, be it a spiritual home or a far country, desolate and abandoned and torn by war.

That in the midst of such sorrow, a sorrow that continues both at home and abroad, that there could be such hopeful, such joyful worship is astonishing. But with that in mind, as my brothers and sisters pray for their homeland, I continue to pray for my own spiritual homeland, that we might find a way to be in as close as communion as possible, even at this late hour.

And yes, Mark, I'd love to have coffee some time.

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