Acknowledging pain or changing direction?

General Convention / Religion

It strikes me that it is important that the language of "regret" does not get mixed up with the word "repent". From what I heard at General Convention, particularly +Gene Robinson’s moving sermon at the Integrity Eucharist (God loves us and asks us to respond by loving more) tells me that we do see the pain in the Communion and indeed weep because of it. We regret because we see the pain endured by God’s children. The word "regret" seems to ring true. Looking at the etymology  of the word
"regret" has clarified this for me:

Middle English regretten, to lament, from Old French
r:  re-, re– + –greter, to weep (perhaps of Germanic
origin) (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000)

Indeed we
do weep and  lament the consequences of our actions on the Communion.
We weep  for misunderstanding one another. We lament that we do
not  accept one another as made in the image of God….as whole people and of God. If we are being asked to say that we regret, we must search the depths of our hearts. We must feel the pain of our brothers and sisters in the Communion~the pain of those who see the brokenness of our common life. The brokenness of not being able to break bread together in our wholeness and in our brokennes. Asking for a statement of regret asks us to feel and witness to that pain.

Repent is altogether something different. I means to turn around, to walk in the opposite direction. I don’t believe we can do this and live into the life that God is calling us.  Turning around  means changing behavior in a way that would deny the  wholeness
of God’s people. We cannot repent the raising up of a bishop by the  people of New Hampshire. It would deny the work of the Holy Spirit among us and the poeple of New Hampshire three years ago in 2003.

Some have suggested that we will be asked to regret the election of +Katharine Jefferts Shori. Perhaps this too will cause pain. From the request of different Primatial oversight by at least one PECUSA diocese, perhaps it has caused pain. Perhaps we will, again, take on the difficult work of listening to the pain. And perhaps we will let God do God’s work of healing.

I do
weep for the pain our actions have inflicted. We cannot fix that pain. We can, however, offer the pain to God and continue to offer ourselves to God for healing too.


The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...