Thursday, December 20, 2007

Unexpected Praise for TEC

As Episcopalians, we do what we believe God is calling us to do, often with little expectation that we will be thanked for making life better for someone else. That is not the point. The point is that we do God's will, whether or not we are thanked or even recognized for what we do. As someone said of the story of Jesus' healing of ten lepers, the miracle was not that one returned to say thanks, but that ten were healed.

What follows is really extraordinary. It comes from a source not connected to the Christian Church other than suffering the wounds inflicted by Christians over the years. We hope it warms your heart, as it did ours.

– Thomas B. Woodward
for The Episcopal Majority

There's a fine essay today in The Advocate.

The essay begins:
It used to be that the gays merely caused popular disgust. Then in the Bush-Cheney era -- made possible by the Republicans' ability to capitalize on our potential to incite the aforementioned popular disgust -- Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and their conservative Christian minions blamed us in quick succession for 9/11, the Southeast Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the U.S. military's mounting death toll in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Accustomed as we are to being fingered by religious leaders for all manner of secular cataclysm, it seems an extraordinary turnabout that now, even as we figure prominently in an ecclesiastical crisis, Episcopal leaders, far from ringing us up for the damages, either downplay our role in the fight or stand up for our honor.
Here are some other highlights:

I firmly believe that within a generation the antigay hate speech Bishop Schofield so freely espouses will receive as little tolerance as we do today, and I look forward to a time when men like him will wish they had quietly harbored hatred rather than staking their reputations on it. Meanwhile, Bishop Jefferts Schori and other proponents of inclusion will be credited with having furthered the integrity of their faith institutions as dynamic, relevant forces in the 21st century.

Non-Episcopalian gays and lesbians might not think we have a dog in this fight, but we all have a vested interest in the outcome. We find ourselves in a very rare position here, one so unfamiliar to LGBT people we can scarcely grasp its significance: In the determination of the U.S. Episcopal Church to take a stand for our equality and inclusion, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose, while the folks fighting for us risk their political and financial footing in the Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian body in the world, which is far more sympathetic toward your Bishops Schofield than to the progressive platform embraced by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the majority of her church's 2.5 million members.

We never asked Episcopalians to take up our fight. Rather, it seems, their spiritual path has led them to believe that we aren't any less deserving of ministry or recognition or even consecration simply because we happen to be unpopular sexual minorities. I wish that weren't an extraordinary concept in 2007, but it is. And Bishop Jefferts Schori has hardly blinked in a year of denominational strife that has seen her character and her commitment to her religious office questioned, challenged, dismissed, and maligned.

In this age of gay bashing from all sides, it isn't often we encounter a religious leader—or any leader—willing to bulldog for our rights, especially when faced with such a potentially high cost to herself and the institution she represents. What I wouldn't give for such genuine representation in our elected officials.
When I consider the trail of broken promises left by those we helped to elect, Bishop Jefferts Schori's position becomes that much more remarkable. Reacting to the secession vote in San Joaquin, she not only refused to retreat from her position, she reiterated it: "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership.

I keep meaning to bake that woman a cake.

In my fruitless search for a presidential candidate who not only believes in my essential equality but is willing to say it out loud and stand by his or her position when the inevitable attacks come down, I wonder if any money I may have set aside to donate to that elusive candidate's campaign might not be better spent tithing to the Episcopal Church. At least there I know my support will go toward furthering my rights, not sending them to the back of the bus—or throwing them under it.
Father Jake also posted this story. He concluded the post simply, with "Some days, I really love my Church!" We simply say "Amen!"

Read it all here.


Blogger liturgy said...

“In Mary God has grown small to make us great.”
St. Ephrem (d. 373)

Christmas blessings from one Anglican blog to another
Bosco Peters

12/23/2007 10:52 PM  

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