The rumor regarding Bishop Jenkins has been confirmed by another, very reliable, source. The same source indicates that Bishop Jenkins’ compromise proposal will be offered as a resolution at some point during the meetings. Moreover, there are at least four resolutions (including Jenkins’) in the works at this point. Two of them are more conciliatory toward the Dar Es Salaam requests. The remaining two are fairly standard leftist ideological fair. I was reminded, and I want to pass this on clearly, that any bishop can write and offer a resolution to the House of Bishops. So to say that at least four resolutions are thus far being offered is not to make any estimation of their respective strength or support.
The main body of meetings are to be held, and are currently ongoing, on the third floor of this hotel. This was a smart move. The “ushers” are able to monitor everyone ascending the stairs or coming off of the elevator and pretty much close the place down when the bishops are in session. The Eucharist was also celebrated on the third floor. All the various and sundry were permitted to attend.
I was surprised, but pleasantly, to see the Archbishop of Canterbury standing by himself in the breezeway at the top of the grand staircase looking a bit confused (but then again who am I to speak. At least he managed to find the correct hotel). Apparently he arrived last night and was here this morning as a worshiper rather than preacher or celebrant. In any case, His “aloneness” did not last long as a small knot of people, probably bishops but wearing plainclothes, quickly gathered around him. During the service sat one row up and six chairs to my right. I also saw Canon Kearon in attendance, though he was not sitting with the Archbishop.
I worked my way past the various groupings of bishops into the rather large room set aside for worship. With the exception of the music which was largely traditional and well done (we sang Holy, Holy, Holy for the processional), the service was depressingly standard Episcopalian fare. The opening benediction eschewed the Trinitarian formula in favor of the following: “Presider: Blessed be the one, holy, and living God. People: Glory to God forever and ever.” The words “Almighty” and “Lord” were deleted from the entire service in favor of simply “God”. There was a confession and the prayer itself was the standard Rite II form but the invitation was: “Let us confess our sins to God” rather than the standard: “Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.” To say that we have sinned against God and our neighbors is, apparently, to sin against someone’s social conscious…a far worse sin in the Episcopal Church than to offend the original two parties.
There was one epistle reading; 1st Timothy 4:12-16, one psalm; 111:7-10, and a gospel reading from the Gospel of Luke chapter 7 verses 36-50…dinner at Simon the Pharisee’s house and Jesus’ forgiveness, during the meal, of the woman who anointed his feet with oil and tears.
I am certain that Episcopal Life will post a transcript of her speech before too long, but I do not see it posted yet, so here are my notes. They were taken by hand rather than computer (I didn’t want to type during the service) so they are a bit more spotty than a live-blog:
“Let no one despise your youth.” We have had three new bishops consecrated in the last few weeks and several more are scheduled in the upcoming months. It has been some time since we have expected the young bishops to sit quietly in this house. We expect now that no one will, “neglect the Spirit that is within you.” And don’t think I am speaking just to bishops.
We have begun, recently, to pay attention to our behavioral norms in the House. We begin our meetings now by reviewing them, something we have not done so much in the past. These norms have to do with an expectation of attendance, mutual respect, collective and continuing wisdom. We expect that one meeting builds on earlier ones. We expect direct communication especially with those with whom we disagree. And we expect to be accountable both to one another and to God.
Timothy, says Paul, pay attention to your teaching because in doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers. Education is a vital part of our calling as bishops by it we save ourselves and those who hear us. Part of that education is seeing ourselves as forgiven and beloved.
We have lived for some time in our community, on all sides, with destructive attitudes toward those who oppose us. I am increasingly aware of the power of judgment to damage, to wound and to remove hope of reconciliation.
You may have heard me speak of Don Imus’ judgment earlier this year of the Rutgers Women’s Basket Ball team. He judged them harshly. But the players did not respond by judging but with an invitation to conversation. When we can meet the “other” with an invitation rather than a judgment remarkable things can happen.
When this happens conversion becomes possible. Simon had already judged Jesus because of his acceptance of the woman. Jesus subverted his judgment by proclaiming that she was forgiven and beloved.
We must begin by recognizing ourselves as forgiven and beloved and offer that forgiveness and belovedness to others. Simon misses that. He misses the significance of the woman’s tears and renders judgment.
There are some in our midst who feel unwelcome. Who do not know what it is to be beloved. Water, oil—where else do we see these symbols? We see them in baptism when Jesus calls us his beloved. We must do to others, for the unwelcome, what Jesus has done for us.
May we all pay attention and bite our tongues and suspend our judgments. Might we not begin our conversation by recognizing the belovedness and blessedness in others and offer them peace.
May we be peace for all who gather here.
And that was that.
The Eucharist was form B. I did not partake in case you are wondering and I did not feel particularly comfortable staying for that part of the service so I didn’t.
More later…stay tuned.