I sense a storm brewing – in fact it has been brewing for quite a long time, its been pretty difficult to miss the clouds and the lightining sparks getting closer. The Anglican Communion is in trouble. I fear much of the storm will be unleashed at Lambeth next month.
Much has been said, some of it vitriolic, some of it peaceful – human sexuality and theology do not mix well in a diverse communion such as ours.
Its easy to get caught up on one side or the other, to draw parallels between the church’s sexuality debates and other civil rights/justice issues of the last century. But these issues are never simple, never pain free for either side, and for the church this particular issues is an unsinkable rubber duck (to steal a phrase of Christopher Brookmyre) – it bobs around on the waves causing havoc, but will never be sunk or solved, it just is there and we have to learn to deal with it.
But there is wisdom and calm within the storm also – Bishop David’s comment today reminding us that the loudest voices are not the only ones and we cannot afford to overlook or ignore those who disagree with us. Also Fr Ian Paton, at General Synod last week talked about invitation rather than inclusivity as the mark of our tradition.
The Scottish Episcopal Church has always had a reputation of being liberal and inclusive, ever since the days of the consecration of Samuel Seabury way back in the dim and distant. There has always been a sense of rebellion against the Church of England – we’re related to it but not part of it.
Back when I was a student in St Andrews, at a provincial conference I remember on the last day someone stood up and proclaimed “we are a Gay church!” The conference erupted in cheers, but I was appalled. I wish then I had had the guts to say then what I say now – we are not a gay church, we are not a straight church – we are a church of human beings:flawed, fragile, muddling our way through figuring out the best way to be the body of Christ in our culture and our context. We are a church seeking to serve Christ, to proclaim Christ’s love and be led by the Spirit of God. Let THAT be our defining feature – not our liberal or conservative nature, not our view on any one aspect of theology, whatever it may be. Do not label us, and do not label me – just seek to proclaim Christ