Skip to comments.Next Month the Deluge
Posted on 05/10/2006 5:25:20 PM PDT by sionnsar
The temperature is rising up here in Central New York, as is the tension. General Convention is fast approaching and things feel very strange. Ive done all that I can to prepare my people for the inevitable trial and sacrifice that is coming. But people are jumpy, nervous about what June will bring.
My parish has flourished over the last year. Weve seen a big jump in conversions and membership in just the last two months. Weve been averaging over 80 on a Sunday, which constitutes about a 50% jump from three years ago in a diocese that has, by way of contrast, declined by 5% in ASA over the same time period. Our soup kitchen is booming. People are using their gifts. The bible studies are multiplying and growing (I teach 4 a week, Anne+ teaches 1 and were starting at least three more in the fall. A good 75% of our people participate). All this to say God has given us good times. Weve been more unified, focused on mission/evangelism, devoted to the scriptures, devoted to worship than ever before.
Now my leaders are worried and, to be honest, so am I.
Last Sunday the bishop was in town for regional confirmations. I have 9 adult converts ready to be Confirmed. But we were not there.
We made the decision way back in 2003 not to participate in district and diocesan events. While weve maintained our institutional ties of obedience (the bishop was invited for his regularly scheduled canonical visit to check our books etc) we have limited our sacramental and spiritual participation (the bishop graciously agreed not to celebrate the sacraments or preach during his visit, for which I remain grateful). Unless specifically required to do so, I dont attend regional clericus or any other diocesan gathering other than the diocesan convention. As I said, the bishop has been uniformly gracious.
I hope that the amicability that has marked our relationship in the past will continue to characterize it in the future, but I think we all know that if/when ECUSA decides to continue her current course and our diocese follows, relations will change. Hopefully, prayerfully, they will remain amicable. But they will change.
I think that is the source of anxiety. We just dont know what that change will look like. We are planning based on a series of scenarios, but we just dont know.
What to do?
Cast all of your anxieties on Him, says Peter, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Weve been doing that daily in my house. Ive been praying for my bishop; that he will either have a change of heart with regard to his vote of 2003 or that he will have a merciful heart towards those of us who must and will act in keeping with their Christian conscience. Ive been praying that God will give us courage, wisdom, and discernment. Ive been praying for peace and strength. And Ive been waiting for all of the above.
One thing seems certain. God is going to call all orthodox people in non-compliant dioceses to sacrifice. We have got to be honest with ourselves and with our people; no candy-coating. We are called to sacrifice. Buildings, collars, property, status, careers; all of them must be offered to God with an open hand. They may be required of us.
Ive known this for some time now. We all have. But now that the time is so near, it just makes me feel sick.
God will be with us.
Trust me, none of it is that hard to leave if you love Jesus more than real estate.
Um... yes and no. I had the advantage of a move so there was absolutely no tie to "real estate," but it still wasn't easy to leave, (P)ECUSA, the church body I'd belonged to all my life.
But I did, and I cannot imagine ever returning. Just as I once could never imagine leaving.
(When did the "P" vanish from the acronym, anyway?)
Same here. Our bishop, Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee of Diocese of Virginia, claimed his vote came "because people of New Hampshire absolutely had expressed their preference in a convincing way" and he felt it his duty to endorse what he saw as a democratic conclusion, no matter whether he disagreed with "a certain active gay lifestyle". I reminded him that the people of Germany also had voted for Adolph Hitler to be chancellor in 1933. I also pointed out that while I recognized the fact that there was and perhaps always been a history of homosexuality in the pulpit that there had not always been "arrogant proclamations" of one's sexual proclivity and that a "don't ask, don't tell" policy would be best for the church. I still feel that way. Sex should be a private matter; and confessed when sinful only to one's priest. I am sick of "in your face" gays and lesbians just as I would be sick of an "in your face" hedonist!