Thursday, February 8, 2007

We will have a Communion

Much has been written in anticipation of the meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Tanzania next week. The bloggers are having a field day, complete with prognostications, conspiracies, and plots on the left, center, and right. Will Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori be asked to leave the meeting? If not, will Archbishop Peter Akinola lead a procession of Global South Primates out of the meeting? Is this the end of the Anglican Communion?


But why should we be anxious about these matters? They are not the central concerns of our faith. They are very peripheral. The Church as the Body of Christ is always a broken (and breaking) Body, even as it is always a resurrected (and resurrecting) Body. Grief and joy are strangely mixed as we travel the Way of Jesus, but the joy overshadows the grief and gives it its shape. We grieve the potential loss of the Anglican Communion, because we recognize the joy of our common life in Christ and wish for all to share in it forever.

And so they will.

We may lose the Anglican Communion. It may be that the Anglican Communion is the life we must lose in order to gain it. To paraphrase Parker Palmer, they life we are living may not be the Life that wants to live in us. The Anglican Communion may not be the Communion that Christ wants to share with us. We shall see.

Here, I am reminded of the words that Bishop Marc Andrus wrote shortly after the 2006 General Convention.

If our commitment is to the relief of global human suffering, locally and globally enacted, we will have a communion. When we baptize and confirm it is into the Body of Christ, not into the Episcopal Church. The remembering of this may help us recognize a communion that may be given to us by our common commitment to the reconciling work of Christ in the world; that is, those who are also engaged in this ministry, or who recognize in it the traits of Christ’s ministry, will recognize us as brothers and sisters. We will have surprises in this, and there will be tears of repentance as all see what could have been but for our self-imposed barriers, and laughter at the gift of shared life.
- Bishop Marc Andrus, "Communion and the Particular"

We will have a Communion. It may not be the Communion we want or think we deserve or work tirelessly to create. It will be the Communion we are being given by a gracious God who loves us and desires to share his life with us in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Communion is a gift, not an achievement.

So, relax. Say your prayers. And, then, let go. We will have a Communion.


R said...

This is quite beautiful, John, and it reminds me of one of the most hopeful comments that came out of Epiphany West: the future of the Anglican Communion is found in the tangible, human (that is, incarnational) relationships with each other in Christ -- as Francisco de Assis da Silva said, "heart to heart, mind to mind, dream to dream."

What a breath of fresh air in the midst of a sea of angst!

Padre Wayne said...

Yes, my brothers R and J -- breathing the clean crisp (perhaps a tad too crisp?!?) air of Michigan refreshes my soul and mind -- and reminds me that even with all the angst/hand-wringing/whinging/name-calling/and rediculous posturing... God is still God, and she is good.