The Lambeth Conference rolls on day by day and the press tent gets more and more hysterical in their predictions, spurred on by the almost complete lack of news coming from the 'big top', as the central meeting tent is called. Nobody seems to know what is being said precisely because nothing is being said. I am given to understand that few of the Bishops are seeing it as anything more than a formality to go through and hope that they will go home with an intact communion so that if it does crack, at least nobody can blame them.
In the mean time we loyal Anglicans try and salvage what we can from the wreckage of the last few weeks and carry on in the way we can. Some wait for GAFCON to meet again, some wait for the next train ride from orthodoxy, some wait like Simeon for God, attentive to His word and with hearts full of patience and love, borne of complete trust in God. Some foam at the mouth about wrongs to be righted and battles to be fought.
In the midst of this we wonder why this has all happened and I wonder if it is all that bad, really. I also wonder about Gene Robinson and my thoughts go something like this. That the man was elected a Bishop and there we are. That there were no problems before he had a Bishops hat and cassock and that all Bishops are Deacons and Priests as well, so what is the distinctive Episcopal act which he cannot fulfill without scandal, or is there some fear or is maybe something wrong with the system which made him a Deacon in the first place? Do we trust the selection process? Do conservative evangelicals on my course wonder how I got through and do I wonder how people with only the most fleeting familiarity with the creeds get through as well and if this is so what do we do about it? Do we argue and bicker or do we truly listen to each other, but know when to eject those who will not listen to others? And if we eject them, where do they go? Do we each set up our own camps and Parishes exclusive of each other and if so what does that do to the body of Christ? No one faction in this broken communion of ours is big enough to stand on it's own and talk of power bases is utterly un Christian and plain wrong. Electioneering and power building are alien to our very being and that must be rejected, for it legislates, in the end, against the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
We have a truth, delivered to the Church throughout her ages, to teach, I know. And I take that very seriously, but so do others and I am not going to decry the family friendly Evangelical Church round the corner for being full to bursting five times over on a Sunday because they are not like me and those who do are, in my experience, jealous. We are not guardians of an ancient secret and keepers of the Holy Ghost, we are children of the one true God who is love and who is justice and who is truth but who is also judgement and decisive. I wonder sometimes if Gene Robinson was our trial, to see how we deal with such a man in our Church, if we would be recognised by Christ as His body still? These are hard questions and maybe I should not be addressing them when I am tired, but I have never been afraid to say when I am unsure about anything and the longer this meeting goes on in Lambeth, the more uneasy do I feel about how well we are expressing the experience of the children of the triune God. Are we the people led over the red sea, called by the lakeside and redeemed on calvary? Are we the men at the lakeshore eating fish with the living, resurrected Christ and bursting forth from the upper room speaking to all peoples or are we looking for the first stone to cast? How will you be judged and how will I be judged? Do I merit eternal life and do you, when this transient world is over? Do I say to God, 'I knew you, I saw you in the incense and the altar and I preached you in the pulpit' or do I have the guts to really say 'I saw you in the poor and the oppressed and I set you free?'.