Sunday, July 6, 2008

What my Bishop is packing for Lambeth....

If you are concerned about The Lambeth Conference, don't worry so much. This is what my Bishop has to say:

"All over the world, bishops of the Anglican Communion are preparing for the Lambeth Conference of bishops, which will be held in Canterbury, England, from July 16-August 4. The conference is held every 10 years at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. International media are focusing on the disputes among Anglicans rising from New Hampshire's gay bishop and different and often colliding theological emphases.

But on the practical level, many bishops and their spouses are trying to figure out how to pack for a long trip and what to wear, especially on July 24, when the Queen entertains the bishops and their spouses at a garden party at Buckingham Palace. The instructions for dress at the palace is "national dress (where appropriate) or day dress.


Well, he does go on to briefly mention colonialism, a very brief history of the Conference, and how the small group process might work. But he finishes the article (which is to be published in our local newspaper soon) by stating that

"Some things endure: most wives of bishops, if not in "national dress," will continue to wear fancy hats to the Queen's garden party."

This attempt at light-heartedness speaks volumes about my Bishop's heavy heart. The past few years must have been more than just a little difficult, what with the law suits for the churches in northern Virginia, and the venom which has been hurled at him personally. But I think this light-hearted sham it is a very bad sign. He remains unable, it seems, to "name the baby." --to say what is really wrong, or what we really should be doing.

So, if he can't name the baby, can I? Am I able to name what is at stake? Here, I'll try:

1) The Gospel imperative to Love one another.
2) A Biblical imagination. Not literalism.
3) The reality of ministry emanating from the Laity. (BCP p855: From the Catechism: "Q. Who are the ministers of the Church? A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests and deacons." That the laity come first is no mistake; without the Laity, there is nothing, no holy orders, nothing.)
4) The Baptismal imperative to strive for justice, peace and the dignity of every human being.
5) Local expressions of faithfulness. Autonomy.

These are the things I would hope my Bishop would pack for Lambeth. These are some of the things I hope he defends in faith.

Besides, what is "national dress" for a guy from Virginia? And if his wife is to wear a fancy hat, she better buy it in London.

Appropriately trimmed in light purple....

Pray for our Bishops. Pray for the Church.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP 515 Ordination: Bishop)


FranIAm said...

Beautiful post Margaret, beautiful post.

Deep sigh.

BooCat said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I hope my bishop would pack the same.

Peter Carey said...

Thanks for the post, I am kinda hooked up on what our "national dress" would be for the United States.

Would it be jeans and a t-shirt, a la Bruce Springsteeen? What about the Beach Boys look? What about all black suit with fedoras and shades, like the Blues Brothers? Or, perhaps bell-bottoms and polyester shirts like the Brady Bunch?

Or, since one of our biggest exports is Baywatch, how about a red bathing suit so they're ready for a lot of running on the beach?

....what else?

Peace to you!


Anonymous said...

Margaret, you wrote, The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests and deacons." That the laity come first is no mistake; without the Laity, there is nothing, no holy orders, nothing.)

Personally I think that that this 1979 concept is destructive, for what has happened is that a new ordering, i.e., rearrangement of church has been created and this is one of the larger sources of many of the problems in the churches today.

The "Laos" are the People of God, the Household of God, The Body of Christ, period. And Christ, though a Single (notice not "One" as in unity of many parts, but a single Christ), does have members, but they are not pieces of him, they are but named members of his body which do different things. Christ is the head, another the heart, the hands, the feet, parts that aren't discussed but necessary, parts that never change, parts like fingernails and hair that come and go, parts that die and parts that are born from nowhere.

Yes, some people can write with their feet, paint with their mouths, sing with their lips, some with their hands, some see with their eyes, some with their ears and hands, but order+narily, most write with their right hand, wear their wedding ring on their left third finger, put hats on their heads. Nevertheless, all are of the household of God, are the People, the Laos of God, the Body of Christ.

The Church therefore can not do without the Laity, the body of Christ. Right. But neither can it do without the Bishops, Priests and Deacons! Or Hands, feet or ears! But if the hand decides that it really wants to "get somewhere" and decides that it shall walk for the body, how will the body write? If the Head decides to be the heart, where the compassion? The Church is arranged then that some will be apostles, priests, bishops, doorkeepers, preachers, acolyte (church helpers), widows, servants (deacons), readers, vestry, choir, Sunday School teachers, sextons, secretaries, baby-sitters. And the Body of Christ can not do without any and all must "work together" (in Greek, do liturgy of life together" for the good of the Body, of Christ, serving the world in the Name of his Father.

The first of the Laity were the Apostles, yes, including Mary! They were the Church! They received the Holy Spirit, breath, of Christ and in their flesh and blood he lived again. And around them gathered others who believed Christ was present in them his Body and they were joined to them. They too become a part of Christ's Body the Church, i.e., the Laos of God! But they did not all become Apostles. The apostles chose others to take their office, elders, i.e., presbyters, and arranged that they would regulate the ordering of the Church and have epi+scope, oversight, obispo, hence bishops. These realized they could do everything for the People of God so they chose some to be their "attending servants," or deacons. Those who could read were asked to be in charge of reading, etc.etc. But the oprdering of the Church is theirs, not the choirs or the altar guilds, and the Deacons and Bishops and elders take it for granted that the readers know what they are supposed to be doing, and probably the readers have no idea how to set the table nor should they, that is the job of the acolyte, called on to do so by the deacon.

The greek word for this "ordering" is heirarchy, and has nothing to do with degrees! only respect, and respect has nothing to do with beauty or power and the like. After my intestine operation I finally realized how important and what respect I had for my rear end, it does more for my than my ring finger, but my ring finger is of much more beauty!

We must get away from the way the world sees us and trying to change things to the world will not be scandalized. "Blessed is the one who is not scandalized by Me." says the Body of Christ!

What think ye?

it's margaret said...

Dear Anonymous.

Me thinks you write like my husband, and if you are not he, then you should speak with him as I think you two would have much to talk about...

Yes, I understand ordering, and hierarchy. What I believe is being said in the 1979 BCP in this instance--it is about source, about foundation --that the Laos, the Laity, the baptized is indeed the first and greatest "ordering" --hierarchy. Without that glorious first, none of the rest of it really makes sense. It's relational, with the relationship beginning in baptism.

Not that one "order" is great than the next indeed. But that the laos is the necessary foundation.

Without the laos, bishops, priests and deacons mean nothing.... One cannot be a bishop without the laos.


it's margaret said...

Hi Peter! --yeah, t-shirt and blue jeans me thinks!

So, the image I posted is of the first Episcopal Bishop of VA.... in historic dress... thought that might do too.

Jane R said...

LOVE the hat. Love it.

Jane R said...

Thanks also for the post.

Anonymous, methinks we need Margaret's thinking as a corrective to theologies and practices of hierarchy that have too often equated ordained leadership with spiritual superiority and considered them part of an immovable cosmic and divinely ordered arrangement. The dangers of both idolatry and human oppression (which are related, since all persons are made in the image of God) lurk in there.

it's margaret said...

Jane --anonymous was/is my beloved. I smoked him out...he cannot tell a lie. Oh my, we've had such discussion tonight! He is afraid of making a "fourth order" in the church --and I'm all for it, if that is what it takes to see baptism as incredibly glorious, and to correct clericalism in the church/Church.


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Caminante said...

"wear their wedding ring on their left third finger"

Um, it depends on what part of the world in which you live...

The Bishop of Rhode Island, Gerry Wolfe, is adamant that there are three orders in the church and that the laity are not one order.

The one thing I point out to the laity is that they haven't taken a vow of obedience to a bishop and therefore have a freedom that ordained folk don't.

Anonymous said...

Hey caminante! The thumb I don't count a a "finger" as in "between the thumb and the first finger."

I agree with the Bishop of Rhode Island.

I know that I am stepping into something, but we are "handedover" and accept as our own (hence the Credo of the Baptismal Symbol, saying that I believe in (eis in the Greek)i.e., within not only the Holy and Catholic but Apostolic Church and the Bishop of that Church, male or female is the Father (Ignatius et als.) to whom we choose to be obedient. It is having the Bishop as Father in God or Source in God (or-whatever-the-devil-we-want-to-call-it-now)
that makes the Church an Apostolic church and connects us with the rest of the "Catholic" Church throughout space and time and makes us One with the whole (Gk: katholicos)Church or Body of Christ Himself.

Promises made at baptism, and most especially in the "Episcopal" Church are made before the Bishop as the re-present-ing of God in Flesh, the Body of Christ. So All of us make our vows to the Bishop as the Icon of the Church.

I realize this is NOT Demos-Craic, and certainly NOT laos-ocratic, for it is Christ the Head who "rules" his Body, we are a Christocracy, and his authority he handed-over (the real Tradition, paradosis, to his Apostles, and through the laying on of hands handed-over to their followers the bishops and they to the People of God, ordering their lives, some as deacons, some as priests, some as bishops, some as married couples, some as solitaries, some to regular communities and religious orders of all kinds and other orderings of life as Christians.

hence the baptismal vows. What do you think?