Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Focus and Means of Unity?

I had completely overlooked the reference in the Anglican Covenant to the Archbishop of Canterbury as "a focus and means of unity," (3.1.4.I) until Tobias Haller pointed it out in a comment on his blog, In a Godward Direction. I agree with Fr. Haller that such a description of the Archbishop is blasphemous.

The focus and means of our unity is God and God alone. It is the Triune God who has created and redeemed us and holds us together in unity. Creatures like the Archbishop may help us to see our unity in Christ, but that unity is a gift, a work of the Spirit. 

Here is yet another reason to say, even if the Episcopal Church were to adopt the Covenant, that it is a deeply flawed, at time blasphemous, and at time idolatrous document. It may be the better course to adopt it - with reservations - and to work towards a better articulation of what it means to be part of the Anglican Communion. Or it may be better, as some have suggested, for the Episcopal to say we cannot accept the Covenant as it is but are committed to continuing conversation with others in the Communion about what it means be Anglican in our various multi-cultural and multi-faith contexts.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Love Wins and Friendship

Last night at Trinity Church in Boston Rob Bell responded to a question about how an Episcopal parish could become a mega-church. Rob's first point was that size isn't the issue and that small churches are not less important than big ones. His second point was that what draws people to a church is often friendship with one of its members. He told us that he had once asked another pastor who wanted his church to grow if he had friends who weren't members of the church. The pastor didn't. Bell said that he - and others at Mars Hill Bible Church - try to make lots of friends in the community and that those friendships are often what draw people to Mars Hill. In the Happening and Cursillo movements this idea is often expressed as "Make a friend. Be a friend. Bring a friend to Christ."

I think friendship is important, although I sometimes worry that we might see our friendships with those outside the church as purely instrumental, as only for the purpose of increasing church membership. Friends are important, simply as friends, and not as prospects for membership.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love Wins

A few months ago my friend Elizabeth Kaeton recommended Rob Bell's new book Love Wins. I had used some of Bell's Nooma videos a few years back at Saint Matthias Church and liked his way of sharing and thinking about the Good News. Given Elizabeth's recommendation I bought and read the book and I recommend it highly. This evening I got the chance to hear Rob speak at Trinity Church in Boston and to speak with him briefly as he signed a copy of the book that I had bought for a friend. Earlier today as I was thinking about hearing Rob, I gave some thought to the books title. I trust that Rob is right - and that I and others have been right - and that love does win. I agree with Rob that we can refuse to let love win in our lives, we can turn away from the offer of love and live in hells of our own making. I also believe that we can make it very hard for love to win in other people's lives. When we abuse someone, particularly when parents and teachers and clergy abuse children, we make it harder for love to win. But I continue to believe that love finds a way even into the most bruised lives and can win. What seems clear to me, both from the stories that Rob told tonight and my own experience, is that our congregations can make a difference, can be communities where love can be experienced and where lives can be transformed. What it takes, in Rob's words, is for congregations to be Eucharist for their communities.