Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22, 2008

Tuesday was a day primarily in small groups. We spend Bible Study in groups of 8 and then go to our Indaba groups of 40. In the larger groups we talk about the mission of the Church and seek to understand how we in our role as bishops can be better leaders and change agents. The remarkable thing is how much we can learn from each other both in spite of and because of our differences. I spoke for a long time with a bishop from the Far East about Christian Formation and was amazed that we confront the same basic issues.
Daily I am confronted with the bubble of being an American. Someone told me they were in the serving line at the cafeteria when an African woman began to weep and she turned and said "So much food. So much food." Surely part of Lambeth is to cleanse our eyes and see a broader vision for the sake of being more committed to Christ's mission. We are to take a long look at what we take for granted.

I heard Brian McLaren again in the afternoon. He asked us what questions were being asked by the people that do not come to Church and why the Church isn't giving any answers which is an exercise all our parishes ought to consider. He challenged us to see ourselves as a board of directors of a new venture that has as its primary objective to make disciples and then to think about what the Church ought to look like. At the end of his session, he said that the biggest change doesn't require bigger budgets or more staff but living examples of the faith.

Each evening the Archbishop of Canterbury asks about 125 people for dinner and rotates from table to table. Jo and I were fortunate enough to talk to him for about 15 minutes. Because it was social occasion, we took a Sabbath from church talk and conversed about novels and poetry and the imagination.

There is all sorts of other news swirling around the Conference which reminds us of the divisions that exist. I have been reading a book called Amish Grace which is about the response of the Amish community after ten girls were shot in Nickel Mines, PA. They forgave the killers because they believe that's what Christians do. Their sense of forgiveness is so deeply rooted that it's part of their Holy Communion. They only have Holy Communion every six months. Part of the preparation for it is for the community to resolve its differences before coming to the table. They go to the person with whom they are estranged and ask for or extend forgiveness so that the circle will be whole around the Lord's Table. Sometimes they delay the service in order to allow the healing to be accomplished. As the discord within the communion bubbles up both in the press and our discussions, I kept thinking about the Amish. I kept thinking that we need to see one another face to face and work it out for Christ's sake and the Church's sake and the world's sake.

Tommorrow we go to London. You may not hear from me for a few days just because my computer may not go with me.
Keep us all in your prayers as I keep the diocese in mine.