16 July 2007

And the church goes on...

I've been almost silent on this blog for around a month. At the beginning of June, I began a new cure, and the parish I'm now serving has been consuming most of my waking hours -- getting to know people, solving immediate problems, and attending to all the joys and sorrows of life for a parish community.

During this time, much has happened in the Anglican Communion. A couple more parallel jurisdictions have emerged in the US, and there are to be (yet) more bishops here. The Canadian synod met, and they sent messages that some interpreted as contradictory, but which made sense to this observer (Paraphrase: "We think this sexuality stuff is not core doctrine, but we're not quite ready officially to leap ahead of most Anglicans on the issue."). +Peter Akinola gave Ruth Gledhill an interview full of astonishingly revealing statements. Rwanda says it's not going to Lambeth. The ECUSA Executive Council met and gave more indications that the US will not be managed by a council of foreign prelates.

Much more than that happened. This was just a sample to prove that I missed out on commenting on all manner of "important" things. I had been feeling some guilt about neglecting this blog, having been so busy with the parish. But then I realized there's a lesson in all this.

For all the talk about a massive crisis in the church, the goings-on of the Anglican Communion are simply not as important as the every day struggles of faithful people, trying to lead faithful lives. When a grieving family contacts the church, they don't care what +Henry Orombi thinks about Anglicanism or whether CANA and the ACN will patch things up. When I met with parents to talk about baptism for their child, not one person asked me for my views on same-sex blessings. People expect me to climb into the pulpit every week and proclaim the Good News. They don't really want to hear a polity lesson or a rehearsal of the "bad news."

So the next time I hear someone say this or that is tearing apart the church, I'm going to be more irritated than usual. I'll ask, "Exactly how is it that +Gene Robinson is tearing the fabric f the Communion?" "How can it be that +Martyn Minns is ruining the church?" There is a crisis only in the minds of a few overly anxious people, in the pens of reporters eager to sell newspapers, in the keystrokes of some obsessed bloggers (yours truly among them, sometimes), and in the preaching of some clergy who might benefit from being a bigger fish in a smaller pond. But to most people, most of the time, there is just the church.

We owe it to our members to get back to being the church. We owe it to the world to start worrying more about salvation than about polity, more about evangelism than about fear. We could do well to remember the Gospel reading for today (at least here in the US). Jesus reminds us that following him is really about two things. We should love God with our whole being, and we should love everyone here on earth. When we start working on that, there won't be much time left over for this "crisis."

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