Just a few words on the news that has come out in the last 24 hours regarding the recent meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Nothern Ireland.
I’m troubled by the imagery of a celebratory meal in England apparently over
the occasion of the ‚Äúexpulsion‚Äù of the Episcopal Church from the Communion. (David Virtue reports that Bp. Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh attended such a meal hosted by the Archbishop of Nigeria.)
We’ve been studying Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians on Sunday mornings at my parish. Dr. Virginia Wiles has been leading us through St. Paul’s teaching to the Church in Corinth about how discipline is do be applied. Paul does allow the possibility that for reasons of church discipline there are times when people must be separated from the body of the faithful. And Paul seems to teach by his own manner of life that if you believe you have are given a true teaching you must follow it no matter what the cost might be to you personally.
But Paul always talks about the tears and the pain that he feels whenever he is forced to discipline someone who he feels has erred. There is NO sense in him of “winning” ‚Äì no sense of celebratory dinners to mark the occasion that part of the body of Christ is no longer welcome to share the Christ’s meal with other parts of the body.
One of the major reasons that I voted to confirm Bp. Gene Robinson’s election by the people of his Diocese is that I saw in him and in his supporters very clear signs of the Holy Spirit. They were gentle, open, inviting and not trying to force other people to agree with them. What they were asking for was space within the Church for themselves to live out their Gospel ministry as they discerned themselves called. They were explicitly stating that they wanted the same opportunity for those in the Church who disagreed with their actions. The folks from the AAC were by contrast meeting secretly, sending observers to other meetings and refusing to pray with those with whom they disagreed. When it came time to vote I remembered Christ’s words: ‚ÄúBy their fruits you shall know them.‚Äù
When I heard the news of the meal shared last night, I heard those words in my head again.
For what it’s worth.