Sometimes at Eucharist, no matter how many people are in the church, you get the feeling that the preacher is speaking directly to you. I had that feeling this morning. Bishop Jefferts Schroi spoke of believing something is so essential that it “takes the place of God.”
That thing, she said, can be a bank account, or a theological framework. For me, and perhaps for other participants in the Episcopal/Anglican debate, that thing is winning the argument, getting the best quote out there, having the last word.
The sin in this, she said is a failure to understand one’s self as “beloved of God.” It is only when we know ourselves as beloved of God, that we can “respond in less fearful ways” to others. Among those others she listed “a rhetorical opponent.”
“We children of Jesus can continue to squabble over our inheritance,” she said, or we can claim it, and live in a way that reflects our claim.
On one level, it is in the nature of my job to have rhetorical opponents. But there is a danger that I am particularly aware of this morning in living primarily—during General Convention, one might say exclusively—on that level. Developing and articulating strategy and executing tactics become the things that “take the place of God.” Trying to shape the future of the Church gets in the way of actually being a Christian.
Yesterday in the House of Bishops, Bishop Gene Robinson, reflecting on the dilemma our Church finds itself in—alienate others in the Communion or cause pain to our gay and lesbians brothers and sister—said “I don’t know what humility looks like in this context.”
I am not sure what it looks like either, but I think I have a better idea, after these 10 days, of what it sounds like. And I am in hopes of reproducing that sound in what I write and what I say as this struggle continues.