Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Church's Mission or God's?

A new friend observed that my latest blog entry was several months old. Someone on sabbatical should have time to continue with a blog, right? Apparently not, at least if the sabbatical is spent at the Episcopal Divinity School, a place with an embarassment of intellectual and spiritual riches.

When I began planning for the sabbatical last spring, I set for myself two goals: to discover more about how congregations have dealt with diveristy of convictions among their members; and to rethink my own understanding of the Atonement. While I have spent some time on both of those projects, other opportunities for study have taken much of my time.

As I approach the end of my sabbatical, I am aware that in spite of the time I have spent these past few months studying liberation theology, the role of the Church in social movements, the Episcopal Church's sharing in God's mission in the world, and post-colonial ecclesiology, I have so much more to learn. Most of all, I need to learn how to engage myself in God's mission, to become part of what God is doing to heal us and our world.
That learning will require, most of all, that I listen - to my family and friends - to the mebers of our parish - to my colleagues in ministry - and to Episcopalians and Anglicans who don't agree with my convictions about sexuality. What I have just begun to discover is that being a Christian within the Anglican Communion means being grounded both in my local community and in a web of relationships with Anglicans everywhere. Staying grounded in both those contexts requires work and patience. I believe that it also requires that I learn to live without certainty about anything other than God's love incarnate in Jesus the Christ, that I learn to hold everything as provisional, even my own deepest convictions. If I can hold onto that love and let it be incarnate in me - even a little bit - and listen widely and carefully, then there is some chance that I can do my little part in God's mission.