Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

(I am not the only WNC person here. Stan and Carol Hubbard are here for Kanuga and Clare Barry was here last week for the Anglican Women's Empowerment Network.)

Yesterday we addressed our interpretations of scripture. There was much more consensus than I would have imagined. Regardless of where we live, we all preach on Sunday, and we all, therefore, encounter the sacred text during the week. Yes, we have different approaches and use different interpretative tools, and I discovered we preach for different lengths of time (no, I am not thinking of lengthening my sermons), but in my group we see the sacred story as foundational. It is the way we make meaning in our lives.

As I thought about that, I realized that the most common word used here is "context." "What is your context?" we say over and over again. It does matter. In fact, in some ways I feel as if I am in a Henry James novel where the naive American comes to the worldly Europe (although I do hope for a better end that most of James' characters).

But in another way, our context is not where we live, it is who we are. We live and move and have our being in God and God's Son, Jesus Christ. We are Christ's own forever, and that is the only context that matters at the end of the day. The word "context" means "weave together." The Anglican Communion has been together for so long because what weaves us together is our primary story of our dying and rising with Christ. As we say in the Eucharistic Prayer: we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. This dying and rising happens everytime we gather at the Eucharist. It's why our identity as Anglicans is in our Common Prayer. We remember Him and we remember who we are.

My hope is that if we adopt a covenant, it is not a set of rules that we agree on to force uniform behavior; my hope is that a Covenant proclaims our true context. It's the difference between basing a marriage on a pre-nuptial agreement and basing it on the love that two people have for one another. Let's proclaim who we are and agree on a common mission from that unified place.

I can tell you that the design of the Conference is to invite conversation, and it has succeeded. There are many proposals floating and different versions of Covenants. It is not clear how this body will reach any sense of agreement or even of reporting its mind to the Anglican Consultative Council at this point. Our sessions become solely focused on these topics tomorrow.

With all that said, the best parts are always worship and conversation. The day begins and ends with prayer and it is a true communion. The meals are always like going to the United Nations. There is a discovery every day of how people are incredibly faithful in all parts of the world. I do get tired from a day filled with meetings, but I am always invigorated by the prayers, the bread and wine, and the stories.

Keep us in your prayers as I keep you in mine.