Sunday, June 29, 2008

GAFCON Reaction: What to watch for on the home front

Here’s a few scenarios of what we might encounter post-Jerusalem from 815 and Lambeth Palace.

1. Denial: They will both remain in denial that the Anglican Communion is in crisis, brought on by the actions taken by The Episcopal Church to break the fellowship. We've seen this all ready with the triumph of the BBC headline: Anglican Conservatives Form Group, the understatement of the year.

2. Despair: They will fall into despair, seeing the writing on the wall - this could actually be more of the laity's response then the formal leadership.

Now both of these reactions (#1 and #2) may have the same public face. It will be difficult to know the difference to the casual observer. The public face will appear unchanged. That will be frustrating for those who want some kind of drama to arise out of those two focus points.

3. Chaos: While both the scariest and healthiest response (scary because Anglicans fear Chaos more than they fear the devil) and healthy because it means that the players are coming out of denial and authoritarian control (this is actually true for all sides, by the way). If/when this happens, the need to find scapegoats to carry the pain will be tremendous. So keep a pad of paper nearby to track Scapegoats of the Week. They can be a friend and a foe. Blind Loyalty becomes the reigning virtue. We all ready see Archbishop Orombi and Archbishop Akionla are the chief scapegoats, but more will follow if these don't do the trick. Someone will have to pay.

Which leads to the next scenario:

4. Retaliation: Perhaps the most likely and the most troubling, we can expect retaliation from those whose points of power are actually threatened by the actions taken in Jerusalem. This kind of retaliation can come from the traditional centers of power, but most likely they will be contracted out.

5. Peace: At some point - who can say when, perhaps soon, perhaps in twenty years or after our lifetimes, there will be peace. Surprised? It's promised to us in the scriptures, though we may not recognize it at first. Peace will come, not because of our own work but because of the grace of Jesus. There are significant points of contention within the GAFCON alliance itself and the peace we saw through the week should not be taken lightly. We know that at some point, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Our courage does not come from our circumstances and our confidence in ourselves (which will be sorely tested, as it has been all ready), but in the truth of the Gospel of our risen Lord Jesus Christ and the faith we have that God can be trusted to keep His promises.

Needless to say, all these possibilities can happen, could happen rapidly or over time. But we all need to keep a sense of perspective and not merely react as events unfold, to remain diligent that if the Holy Spirit is alive and is active and working in our lives, that we need to be watchful so that we can join Him in His work, not expect Him to join us in ours. This will require far more than politics can deliver, though politics is essential when rebuilding structures. It will require much of what we’ve seen in the witness of Jerusalem as the GAFCON pilgrims have experience spiritual renewal and restoration in their time gathered in conference. What marks GAFCON so implicitly is that it hasn't been all about politics.

But we must also remember that friendly fire is still the favorite tool of the Adversary. What opponents don't shoot, we often will. Do take note. We will look for refuge in old standbys that didn't work in the past and still don't work today - but are familiar, like an old shoe. We will actually become just like what we are trying to change. Again, what our opponents don't shoot, we often will for we have been wounded through this process, make no mistake about that. As I am often reminded, if we have no desperate need for a savior, why are we Christians? Come, Holy Spirit.

Thousands now return home and we join them in the post-Communion prayer:

And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord. To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

To God be the glory.


robroy said...

Sounds like Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief and loss: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

1662 BCP said...

Good point robroy. BB you've done a great job in breaking this down so we can "Be Prepared" as we used to say when I was a Boy Scout. It is a matter not simply of Faith, but one of Faithing. Dr. Gene Scott used to talk about the ABCs of Faith: Faith is an Action, based on a Belief, sustained in Confidence that God is a man of His Word and will do that which He said He will do.