Monday, 22 December 2008

Blessings with the Snow

I have always said I would never live where I had to own a snow shovel. Today, I finally wished I had one, and yet I still don't own one because there is not one available within 100 miles. I hope I can stick to my plan. To top it off, since moving to the great Pacific Northwest, in every season we have lived through, and this is our second winter, I have heard this line from just about everyone, "This is not normal for Seattle" I am beginning to wonder if there is a "normal" for Seattle. Right now I think 45 and rain sounds great! I have also said often that snow is highly overrated. I guess I do like heat, you don't have to shovel that!

Still, there are some great things about this. I have to wonder if this is God's way of making us slow down, even though some people don't, can't, or won't. I have also witnessed some people being not so kind, but far more being very kind and helpful as we all struggle together. Sunday, I could not get to where I was supposed to be, St. Columba's, Kent and then St. Mary's, Lakewood and that is just difficult for me. I hate not to be there. I get fidgety and kind of aimless when the plan is subverted. Getting past that, I decided I would take the opportunity to attend services at St. John the Baptist. This is the very good thing about living right next door to an Episcopal Church in this diocese. My wife was having a bit of back trouble after an ice spill the night before, so my son and I went together. This alone was such a gift, and to go without anything to really do, but be with him, even better. I was treated to a truly fine meditation by Rector Peter DeVeau, who had not intended to preach. He had a guest preacher who could not make it, yes, because of the snow. As is so often the case, these rather impromptu offerings are often some of the best. This one was. We even had an old fashioned hymn "call out" for Christmas carols. But perhaps the most meaningful part of this day was my son, sitting beside me and instructing me as we moved through the service. He was being very helpful, telling me "how it happens here", and guiding me through the service, leading me around. He wants to be a deacon, and he is serious about this. He would make a good one. But I found myself sitting next to him so thankful, for him, thankful that the moment had been created, thankful for the snow.

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Rev. Dr. Peggy Bosmyer Campbell

She was a force to be reckoned with. And one of the most caring forces you would ever know. She was a friend, colleague, mentor, and perhaps her most important role in our lives, the mother of our two godchildren. Peggy was the first woman ordained an Episcopal priest south of the Mason Dixon line in 1978. The number of lives she touched, transformed, mentored, and nurtured is countless, and some even unknown. She and her husband, Dennis, another touchstone in our lives, and the priest that led me through the process toward ordination, helped a few others officially "introduce" me to the Diocese of Olympia at my consecration in September 2007. It was the greatest honor to have them there. Had Peggy and Dennis been given the opportunity, they would have surely been able to tell some stories! Shortly after that Peggy received her diagnosis. Not long after that, my wife and I talked to both of them, and we asked Peggy what she needed from us. She did not miss a beat and said, "Just love my babies."

Peggy died at the age of 60, this past Saturday, December 13th. Ironically, that same day, just hours after she died, our son, Austin was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. A few weeks ago as we checked in with Dennis we had told him about Austin' s big day on the 13th of December and he had assured us that we would be in their prayers. We remarked upon hearing the news, that Peggy had once again taken our request straight to the source, this time the source of all things. My son has vowed, along with the other vows he took on Saturday, to learn as much as he can about Peggy and to always remember her when he remembers this day. While I wish, as much as I could wish anything, that it were not so, since it is, I am thankful my son will have this day, and this great saint of the Episcopal Church, and of our faith, to carry with him on this journey. Her family reports that she was watching "It's a Wonderful Life" at the time of her death. She reminded so many through her life and ministry of that very truth, that it is a wonderful life. She certainly reminded the Rickels of that and for the moment, it is just very difficult to imagine this life without her in it. Your prayers for Dennis, the children, and all who grieve her loss would be a gift to me.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Messy

There is a friend I have. I have known him since he was about the age my son is now. I even mentored him and tutored him in subjects he had problems with in school. I moved when he was a young teenager and then, through the wonder of our journey, I was back in his life and by then he was out of high school and living the rough and tumble life as a young adult. Today he is in prison. He and I have kept up through letters. I must admit I have learned more from him in these letters than I would ever surmise he has learned from me. He can put so eloquently the feeling of being left out of God's world, and at the same time feeling the closeness of God in what he goes through on a daily basis. He states in his latest letter, "It's hard trying to do what God intends us to do." He goes on to suggest that saying one is only human seems like a very shallow excuse. Indeed on many days I feel that same way. In this Advent season as we await again the coming of Christ into our lives, I am thankful for the human nature our God was willing to take on. Somehow it is comforting to know the Holy One knows those feelings.

There was at the end of this letter from my friend, a bit of an apology. I think he was referencing the letter but it reads, "Hope to hear from you soon and I am sorry it is so messy." Me too, I thought. It is often messy. I wrote him today to say his letter was not messy at all, that I got it, all of it, clear as a bell and the beauty and clearness in it will help me know Christmas in a way he would never imagine, and finally, thank you, once again, my friend.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Advent Conspiracy

In the chaos of the horrible terrorist attacks in India in these past days, as that was just beginning, a sign for a life insurance company was hanging from a storefront which after the name of the company read, "peace of mind, guaranteed."


 

As I said, it was deeply ironic. This is the actual sea we swim in. One in which we have learned the illusion that we can actually buy things such as security, safety, relationships, peace of mind. We enter the season of Advent today; the beginning of the church year. And as we do I mourn, as I do each year, the fact that we, for the most part ignore it. Instead, we as Christians, have sold out to the season of the masses, the consumeristic Christmas. Advent is designed to be a season of waiting, of watching, of preparing, of slowing down. It is, as is often the point of our faith, the very opposite of what the world sees these days as. These are the days of the frenetic, of 4 a.m. sales, with people camping out in order to get that great deal on a gift that will be forgotten completely long before we repeat this season, it is the season of literal deadly stampedes in the stores which should make us wonder about our focus. It is so off balance, that as Christians, we are actually not supposed to party right now, or celebrate Christmas, because Christmas has not yet come. Christmas is a season too, but instead of celebrating it we often also follow the societal herd. Our Christmas trees our out on the curb before noon on the 26th, a tribute to the selling out to the Hallmark Christmas season, our Advent, signifying the end or that celebration, when in fact, Christmas is just beginning. For me this is always, each year the iconic, incarnated picture which states clearly, we have forgotten Christ, just as he is arriving. On January 6th, the Epiphany, the Magi will arrive at the side of the baby Jesus, and this, in fact, is one of the holiest of days, and yet it is virtually lost in the new years resolutions and the hangover of an overindulgent Christmas and New Year celebration. But I am not cynical.


 

As we enter this Advent, the lines are longer at the food lines, than in the lines at the mall. That is a switch this year indeed. It was a change foisted on us by the downturn in an economy that thrives on just this scenario, but if there is a silver lining perhaps that is it; perspective. And that is just what Advent is supposed to give us each year. In some of the monasteries, it is custom each year to count their shoes, to inventory what they had accumulated in the past year, and to rid themselves of the excess. In many ways, Advent is such an invitation and event for us. We might do well to take it; to actually step back and take stock.


 

In these times it would be so very natural to contract, to retreat into a scarcity that rather scoffs at the reality, that even in these times we are among the very wealthiest people on the face of this planet.


 

We should take this inventory individually but also collectively. Many, in these times, have suggested that the church will suffer greatly in our pledge drives due to this downturn, and that may be true. IF it is, it will break all of the records and statistics we have. In the course of every recession the church has at least held its own, and even in the depression, giving continued to far exceed the losses that were experienced.

Here is what is shown in the numbers. People continue to find the will and the means to give, when they believe in the purpose and mission of what it is they are giving too. I was sent a link to a great video that I would direct everyone to! It is entitled Advent Conspiracy, and it sums up what I am trying to say better than I could ever say it. I commend it to you, and I also commend to you a holy and observed Advent.


 

Blessings, now go see the video… www.adventconspiracy.org.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. As it has approached I, like many I am sure, have thought about all that I am thankful for. This week started with a visitation to St. Alban's, Edmonds, where it was my great privilege to baptize a baby and a teenager. As we got to the baptism, it went about like these usually go. But the little baby was so very interested, and smiling, and she was simply enjoying this. I took her and did what I always did as a Rector; I paraded her around the church, up and down the side aisles, and the center aisle. Behind me walked the teenager, who had not really smiled during that morning, and I was bound and determined to get one out of her. I had her pick up the baptismal font bowl full of water and I told her, "You are going to follow me and you are going to get these people wet, and I mean wet!" An alert server ran outside, obviously being in the know, and brought in a cedar branch for her to use and away we went. I go on this parade to allow those present to meet the newest Christians, and to offer their blessings to them as well. The little baby was simply a charmer. There was not a soul along our path that could resist smiling and being just a bit happier about all of life. Half way through our journey I looked around at the teenager following me and there on her face was the biggest smile! She was having a ball, and she was living up to her task too! She was getting the people wet, reminding them of their baptism, and reminding them to be thankful. My day had been completely made. At the procession out of the church we marched straight out the back door to a gazebo which had just been completed as an Eagle Scout project. We gave thanks for the work that had gone into it, the bell tower that had once stood on the same spot, reportedly an Eagle Scout project of its time too, and we gave thanks for all the people that would seek out the shelter and solace of the space. After that, I was hosted at a parishioner's home, and we had a deep and wonderful conversation over a feast, about this journey we all share in bringing the Good News to the world.

Today, Thanksgiving Eve, I, along with the DHouse staff, volunteered at Northwest Harvest Food Bank where we always meet Jesus. Tonight, I was blessed to preside at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, and to once again share in the baptism of a wonderful child who could not wait to get wet, who practically climbed into the font. I sit here now, thankful for every one of these experiences, thankful for this vocation which brought me to the most beautiful place on earth, with some of the finest people who now grace our lives. And, as I look forward to the feast tomorrow, I know that the greatest blessings will be gathered around our table. I am most thankful for our God who is grace and love.

On this thanksgiving, may you know the fullness that comes from being loved, and giving it.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Broken Open

Here, in the Diocese of Olympia, we just finished our annual convention. The theme was Radical Hospitality, as we learn more and more about being the people of radical hospitality. I had hoped to model this convention off of the very good fruits that I believed came from my experience at Lambeth Conference this summer. And so we had more Bible Study, and more discussion in Indaba groups. We took up three topics in three hours spread over our time, the environment, hospitality, and human sexuality. My hope was that we would focus more on our relationships and conversation, and less on legislation with the belief that we will never be able to legislate our relationships or our growth and learning as we continue to live in community. We so often do not talk to each other. "Early returns" reveal that many truly loved the new format, I believe that is true because we don't get the chance to talk to one another much in our society or our church.

What I heard, even in this much smaller and surely truncated version of Indaba, was much the same as I heard and experienced at Lambeth; people coming away from conversations with those with whom they did not agree, but still knew they were in relationship with, thus making the strident stance we often hold a bit less easy or firm. Mostly, too, some joy in the fact that this might still be possible in the church. It was surely not perfect, there were some little problems here and there, but all in all a really good thing.

We also experienced the worship provided by Church of the Apostles, (COTA) and the Church of the Beloved, both emerging churches. There is a haunting song they sing, "Broken" with lyrics that repeat, "I am broken, you are broken, everyone is broken." It ends with the line, "I never knew broken glass could shine so brightly." I can rarely get through this tune without tears and I saw some of the same reaction around the room. Jonathan Weldon, Interim Rector of St. Paul's, Bellingham came up after the worship to say that what he sensed is that this emerging worship has brought back lament. It gives us a real way of lamentation. I think that is so true. Just as we don't have time to talk to one another about the deep issues of the heart, and our lives, we also do not have time or space enough for lament. Lament in our world is often seen as a sign of weakness, instead of strength.

We were offered both this weekend and most importantly the gift of time spent together and the courageous hope that God's Kingdom remains within our grasp, open to all, that we can still be signs of it, as we travel toward it ourselves.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Salute to our Veterans

I write this on the Eve of Veteran's Day. Two images stick with me from this past week. One, is a Viet Nam Vet who stated that they did not get respect when they returned home back then, but they were getting it now, and he said just how much he appreciated it. The other is the story I saw tonight on one of the national news programs. It comes from Canada, the Highway of Heroes. Along this 100 mile trek that every soldier lost in the war takes, people come out all along this path to show their respects. One fire department is there every time, on the overpass, saluting one and all. A mother of a fallen soldier told just how moving all of this is, and told a story of a father and son, who stood in the back of their rusty pickup truck and saluted together as the motorcade drove under the overpass.

I have to admit I have been a bit worried at how sterilized this war, or wars, is for us here. Of all days I intend to, tomorrow especially, give thanks for those who have given their lives for me. I am thankful that our citizenry has seemed to accept and live out of the reality that these men and women, no matter what your feelings about the war, the military, no matter, they do it for us. I will use the day, as on all days, to pray for peace as well. I will pray for an end to the 100 miles drives on the Highway of Heroes, and that no such tribute be necessary anywhere in this world. It is a lofty dream, but our God is an awesome God, and calls us to the miraculous and the lofty.

Monday, 3 November 2008

All Saint’s and This Election

I write this on the eve of our national election. Regardless of the outcome, I must admit I am so ready for this to end. I had the great privilege to preach in three different settings this All Saint's weekend. In each I found myself drawn to, and using, the story and witness of Ruby Bridges, a 6 year old African-American who participated in the integration of the New Orleans Public Schools in November 1960, 48 years ago this month. I was born three years after this event. Ruby became the focus of one of Norman Rockwell's famous paintings, entitled, "The Problem we all live with." It is indeed a problem we live with, even today, and yet on the eve of this election, regardless of how it turns out, I hope we as a nation can step back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for just how far we have come. Even in my lifetime I have often been doubtful we would ever see a woman on a national ticket, much less a person of color. Don't get me wrong, I am as unhappy as most people at the negative tone these seem to always go too, although the irony of that is, all the studies show that the negative ads work, and that seems to say something about us.

Still, all the way around, I believe it has been a remarkable few months to watch and live through. It is still a "problem we live with" and we have quite a few more of those. However, perhaps we can move that "problem" and others to a new place of holy conversation and realistic vision. I hope so. I think of the witness of Ruby Bridges, and so many like her, a 6 year old black girl, who though the smallest figure in that famous painting, walked taller than them all. To survive the attacks which were made on her daily as she walked to school, a school where all the white teachers, save one, had refused to teach her, she said a prayer which her mother had taught her. Robert Coles, the child psychiatrist who volunteered to work with Ruby and her family through that time, asked her one day what she was mumbling as she walked through that crowd. She told him she was saying this prayer, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

I give thanks for Ruby Bridges, for the saints in this story, the teacher that kept teaching against all odds, the black and white people who helped move this along in the face of so much inertia. No matter what happens tomorrow, we have all, collectively, witnessed a victory, and I pray now, we know more, that our blind spots are less, and that the horizon which our savior Christ has envisioned, that Kingdom of love and grace is a bit closer.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Harambee and Kairos!

Dear Ones,

This weekend I have been blessed by attending two events. The first was Saturday evening. I traveled to St. David's, Shelton to attend their special meal entitled Harambee! This is a Kenyan word, and a movement in Kenya, the word means basically "to pull together" Kenyans, Moses and Lois, and South African Jonathan cooked and taught us in what this means. Harambee events were designed to be the spark that would spread. The gift of meal and the spirit of sharing and pulling together toward a common goal was supposed to spread from town to town, county to county, country to country. The meal was made with great care, and shared with members of St. David's and with many from the community of Shelton. As the smoke from the grill filled the town, people came walking by, and walking in. The food is why they came, but the fellowship and the sharing is what filled them, and me, as I left.

This evening I had the great blessing of attending the Kairos Closing at the prison in Monroe. About 100 people, some from "inside", some from "outside" joined in the faithful band there to welcome the 38 candidates who have been in retreat since Thursday. I was blessed to be in that band. I am always amazed by the gratitude and the faith of those on the "inside." I have said before that often, in prison, when in the prayers of the people, we get to the place for thanksgivings and blessings, the audible prayers are endless. When the same place is encountered in our churches, there is often a deafening silence. And, it always makes me wonder who is in prison? Our prisons surely are not simply made of walls and bars, but also the barriers we put up in our hearts and minds. One thing the prisoners say draws them to Kairos weekends is the food but they say what I say above about Harambee as well, that although that drew them in, and they are thankful for it, they leave the weekend with a fullness made of something other than food, a fullness that is more enduring, for many even life changing. I am always so inspired by their boundless honesty in their witness, the "open mike" time they get to share. Here some said simply, I am not sure I believe in Christianity yet, but I sure do believe in all of you, and the love you have shared with me. I am moved by this because often I see the opposite in our churches, where we are sometimes more inclined to eat our young, or shoot our wounded when they suggest anything outside the approved response.

As one candidate said, as he looked at the other 37 who had been through this weekend with him, pointing out to the "yard", 'when you see me out there, be there for me, build me up, remind me of what it was like in here, and I will do the same for you.' It reminded me that we should all be about that, out in the "world" too.

This was a good, full, rich weekend. I am going on retreat this week, a much needed one, and I could not be more thankful for these two events as precursors to my time of prayer, reminding me that freedom and captivity are real, but they are also not as simple and clear as we might think; that the most isolated and restrained individual, can be as free as any freedom we know, and the most unrestricted individual, can live in total captivity. With God, we can defy the gravity of our minds , live beyond all barriers, and be "full."


 

Blessings,

+Greg

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I'm Back!

Dear Ones,

As I said in the October "Voice", I intend to blog a bit more, not nearly as much as I did from Lambeth, surely not every day, but hopefully enough for us to use this as a way to stay in contact, to communicate, and to be in conversation. For now, the financial meltdown may be a place to start.

You surely do not need me to tell you that our financial world has changed remarkably and indelibly in the past several weeks. Certainly, I am in no position to suggest where this is all going but I did want to state my firm belief that the unchanging reality of the love of our God, through Jesus Christ has not changed, and will not change, no matter what happens on Wall Street.

Still, the reality of these dramatic changes are affecting many in our fold, and surely those all around us. I will be speaking even more to this in my November Voice article, but before that I wanted to let you know of my concern, and my prayers, as we continue this uncertain ride. I also hope we can open up a conversation about resources and ideas as we move through this time. In the next few days we intend to put out resources we have and we would very much appreciate your adding to this or offering more such resources.

Today I was blessed to attend the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Brian Thom, as Bishop of Idaho. I arrived Friday to a snowstorm, the earliest measurable snowfall on record in Boise! It was gone pretty fast. The service was beautiful, our Presiding Bishop preaching and presiding. I have grown to know and respect very much Bishop Bainbridge and it was just as good to be there to honor him as well.

So, here is our start again! I look forward to being in touch. Blessings,

+Greg

Monday, 4 August 2008

Lambeth, Back Home!

Dear Ones,

Well, I am actually back on US soil and looking forward to a few weeks of vacation with my family, who is with me now. I missed them so. My last Lambeth post will be my pastoral letter to the diocese, just sent out tonight and posted now here. Blessings to you all! For those who commented, thanks for taking the time to peer in. I hope it was helpful!

A Pastoral Letter in response to Lambeth Conference from the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Bishop of Olympia to the People of the Diocese.


Dear Ones,

A message from our Presiding Bishop

Lambeth 2008

Many bishops came to this gathering in fear and trembling, expecting either a distasteful encounter between those of vastly different opinions, or the cold shoulder from those who disagree. The overwhelming reality has been just the opposite. We have prayed, cried, learned, and laughed together, and discovered something deeper about the body of Christ. We know more of the deeply faithful ministry of those in vastly differing contexts, and we have heard repeatedly of the life and death matters confronting vast swaths of the Communion: hunger, disease, lack of education and employment, climate change, war and violence. We have remembered that together we may be the largest network on the planet – able to respond to those life and death issues if we tend to the links, connections, and bonds between us. We have not resolved the differences among us, but have seen the deep need to maintain relationships, even in the face of significant disagreement and discomfort. The Anglican Communion is suffering the birth pangs of something new, which none of us can yet fully appreciate or understand, yet we know that the Spirit continues to work in our midst. At the same time patience is being urged from many quarters, that all may more fully know the leading of the Spirit. God is faithful. May we be faithful as well.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

The statement is available on EpiScope
http://episcopalchurch.typepad.com/episcope/

For complete coverage, be sure to check Episcopal Life Online
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/elife/




Dear Ones,

In the last day of our Lambeth Bible study, we studied John 20:1-19, “that through believing you may have life in his name.” In it we found that we, as Christians, most fully lead our lives as wounded and risen at the same time. The same might be said of this Lambeth Conference. Certainly, we entered this Lambeth with emotions, hopes and wishes that were all over the map. Regardless of just where you might be on that spectrum, I think it would be fair to say we entered Lambeth both wounded and risen. As we now see its end, I don’t see it much differently, but I would say that those who attended are different; we could not help but be so.

At the beginning of the conference a bishop gave us this quote from Mussolini: “It is not that governing Italy is impossible, just pointless.” I am not sure why that has stuck with me but I must say that this wonderful sacred mystery we call the Anglican Communion is a difficult thing to manage or govern. Perhaps God does not exactly want that. The great gift of the Anglican Communion has always been its very uniqueness in the face of many different styles of church throughout the world. All our ecumenical partners who were invited in as full participants said over and over that Anglicanism offers a unique witness in Christianity, and in the religious world, and they hoped we would stay together to be a witness to it.

The struggles we have had and continued to have in these almost three weeks can be summed up in the following manner: We are trying to solve our differences with a modern process imposed upon a postmodern problem. Another way to put it would be from Ron Heifetz’s work, Leadership without Easy Answers: we are trying a technical fix when we have an adaptive challenge on our hands. Our leading edge these past weeks was not to succumb to that temptation. More importantly, I think Jesus operated this way as well. He often led those around him to the most unlikely places, through the most unlikely people.

As the world has become more global so has the Church. It often does not do us well to try to have relationship in this instantaneous communicative world we live in. One can nary have a fleeting thought before it is posted on the World Wide Web, and this does not help our conversations. I am sure the web is humming already. What we had this last three weeks is real conversation, the face-to-face kind, where memos and e-mails cannot hide the incarnated being right before your eyes. There is no delete button or hiding behind the computer screen here. And there is nothing that can substitute for the experience of the primitive ancient church practice and reality of gathering around the Scripture in a small group, under a tree or around a table.

That is not to say that all the conversations during this time have been chummy, as they might say here in England. No; they were direct, even strident at times, but at least we were in the room together. We had to deal with each other. And on this last day, as we shared our hopes and dreams before we left, especially with those in our Indaba and Bible study groups, we realized we had put ourselves in the hand of God, and with Jesus as our guide, the vast majority had been solidified in one thing even if not changed as far as position or theological stripe: we value each other and we value this communion, even more deeply than when we arrived. Tears were shed, smiles were shared, vows were made to pray for one another and to share and talk, even when the rough times come, and we know they will.

I give great credit to the Archbishop of Canterbury in proposing and following through with an agenda and way of being at this conference that was centered on relationships, not legislation. As he said in one of his speeches, “For those of you who are unhappy or wish to criticize this approach, let me ask you: Have the old ways really been all that effective?” He has a very good point. I know many of you are divided as to trusting him or not. I can only tell you he is human, too; he has his strong desires and he is in a most difficult place. In all Christian charity, for now, I intend to trust the current process and work with our Presiding Bishop and our House of Bishops in working with the communion.

The senior bishop in my Indaba, from another province, offered this analysis before he left: a narrative is being proposed by some in the communion and by many in the press that the Anglican Communion is at war and is totally divided. The narrative says that everyone in the communion is in one or the other of these camps. Instead, there is a narrative, what he called the truer narrative, which suggests just what we have lived at Lambeth 2008—those two ends of the spectrum do in fact exist, but there is a huge center that simply wants to get along with mission and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. I would add to this the even more important narrative that we cannot lose: that everyone on that spectrum—everyone, the left, the right, the center—is living out of a deep commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as they have received it, in their context, and are trying to live that with the greatest integrity they can.

We did not resolve anything at Lambeth 2008; however, we did get closer to one another. We did have time to listen to one another. And, as we gather and discuss this in the months and years ahead, I would be glad to share some of the great misconceptions about us and some we had about others that were made clear by our sharing. These alone were worth the price of attending.

One bishop “listener,” the 16 tasked with collecting all of the inputs and putting them into some coherent statement, claimed her frustration by saying there was no way to be scribe and poet at the same time. And I would add even the poet could not completely articulate what has happened to those of us who have walked together during these last days.

I have begun new relationships that I hope will lead to work and relationship for all of us. One very promising connection is with the Rt. Rev. Michael Sande of the Diocese of Butere in Kenya. He and I met several times this week, along with Nedi, and I see the possibility of a growing connection. My Indaba group formed a statement on climate change and the environment which I will publish some time later. Nedi wrote a Rule of Life for us and it is being widely sought after now as a way for us to hold each other in prayer.

So I say to you we still have work to do, in our diocese, in the Episcopal Church and in our Anglican Communion. I am not sure where it will all lead. But the truth is we will always have work to do. It is who we choose to walk with while we do the work that deserves our attention. I do know friends from all over this communion now, who believe in Jesus Christ and his power, and who want to be in relationship with us, even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything. They know the truth of, and are willing to stay in, the wounded and risen nature of our life together.

At our last General Convention I heard a story; I believe it was a visiting Korean Anglican who said to one of our deputies, “We have a story in our country, that porcupines must hug one another to get through the winter. It is painful, but in order to survive they must hold each other tight. It seems your church is in the winter now.” Wounded and risen. Our Indaba, to my great joy, ended its last time together with my favorite prayer in the prayer book and I leave you with it now, too.

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 tranquility 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

Faithfully,

+Greg

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Lambeth, August 3rd




Dear Ones,

The last day. A bittersweet moment actually. The Bible Studies and the Indaba's have been a blessing in so many ways. I know you have heard, and will hear more about how these did not work, but just remember there were 670 bishops here and many spouses as well. The vast majority of them shared today in our last day how much these discussions have meant. It was expressed that one cannot go through such an intensive experience and not leave changed. I feel that is very true, and I feel it myself.

My Bible Study was made up of bishops from South Africa, UK, Canada, Malaysia, and Japan. We have vowed to stay in touch and to pray for one another. We are exploring a Rule of Life together. The relationships are profound and it was exactly what was hoped for in the Archbishop's and the Design Team's work. The idea is, we cannot work out the very delicate and intricate issues that arise in this communion, without relationship.

After lunch, we entered the Big Top for one final time. It was a very cool day in Canterbury, with some rain as well, a lot like home! But that was welcomed as we all came into the Big Top. Upon our entering we were presented with the "Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections from the Lambeth Conference 2008." This was put together by the 16 member "listening" group. One member from each Indaba, with careful consideration to make sure there was as wide of representation as possible. The two Americans were Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta and Bishop Gerylyn Wolf of Rhode Island. Bishop Wolf actually was the representative from my Indaba. This group has worked around the clock, literally, and they were tired. It was not never proposed to be a document to solve things, not a legislative document, but a "reflection" of what we were about, and where our minds are right now, to the best of their ability. Many of you have probably read it more closely than I have had a chance to yet. Afterwards the Archbishop of York played the drums! Picture above!

At the plenary, the Archbishop thanked a lot of people. I was even included in one thank you as a leader of one of the Bible Studies. After those, we heard from our ecumenical partners who have been full participants in this process. Kallistos Ware, who is Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia of the Eastern Orthodox Church said, "your joys and sorrows are our joys and sorrows, and your problems are our problems, and if they are not yet our problems, they will be!" He went on to be quite clear about what he saw, we did not clear up everything, but he was also clear in saying, "I need you to be who I am!"

Jane Williams, the Archbishop's wife, led some from the Spouse's Conference in sharing their experiences. Thier experiences were much the same and resulted in some deep and abiding connections. Both the Archbishop and Mrs. Williams were given warm, and long, ovations.

We then boarded buses in route to Canterbury Cathedral for our closing Eucharist. We once again paraded down that street, past the Starbuck's, and through Christ Gate to the cathedral grounds. Again, stewards lined the streets to make a path, and to make sure we saw smiling faces, of which there were many.

The service was absolutely beautiful. I have provided one picture above that does not do it justice. The boy's and men's choirs sang. The Archbishop of Melenesia presided, the Archbishop of Canterbury preached, telling us to share the story, a story that should make "something happen." One of the most moving moments was toward the end. The names of the Melenesia martyrs murdered in 2000 were recieved by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He prayed over them and then the Melenesia brothers and sisters present took the names, along with the Archbishop of Melenesia, singing their litany of the saints and martyrs, a beautiful, haunting tune, as they did. Their singing would echo as it got fainter and fainter as they took the names to the Chapel of Saints and Martyrs of Our Own Time.

We then were treated to a dinner on the grounds and then back to the University to pack, to get ready, in my case, for a 5 a.m. bus ride to Gatwick.

I will be posting one more time on this blog, my last reflection on this blog as Lambeth ends. I hope to post it tomorrow during my travels.

I hope this has been helpful to you. I have enjoyed doing it. I have very much enjoyed your comments. Some have commented with no way to respond, including one clergy from my diocese. Please know I would respond if I knew who you were!!

Until then, I leave you with a prayer used during the intercessions tonight at Canterbury Cathedral;


God our Shepherd, give to the Church a new vision and a new charity,
new wisdom and fresh understanding, the revival of her brightness and the renewal of her unity;that the eternal message of your Son may be hailed as the good news of the new age; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessings,

+Greg

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Lambeth, August 2nd



Dear Ones,

I am not really going to be able to explain the first picture above. It is a public registrar's office I have passed everyday on my walks. I see it every time and wonder how it sums up something about our walk through life and all we have been about here in Canterbury. I offer it to you. Another one I saw but could not get a good picture of said "Bishops: acquired for clients". It is one way to do it!

Today started as the rest, Eucharist at 7:15 provided by the Anglican Church of Kenya, breakfast, then Bible Study on John 18:1-18. I think our Bible Study participants are mourning a bit. It has been truly transforming to be in these small groups, studying Scripture, and simply sharing our stories, how they relate and intersect with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even more putting names and faces to the Communion. Tomorrow will be our last meeting.

We then went to our Indaba group for a meeting entitled "Fostering Our Common Life: The Bishop, The Anglican Covenant, and the Windsor Process." There was no consensus and in fact, in my group, I would say there are feelings that range from no covenant at all no matter what, to those simply open to the idea and not committing (perhaps the largest group), to those convinced it is the only way forward. I am becoming less and less convinced that it is the answer. I intend to address that in my last post from the conference. Today was our last Self Select workshop and I attended "The Science of Climate Change" which was headed by Professor Ian James, University of Reading, UK. He is also ordained. He gave an excellent presentation, much of which I have seen before but also new information is always coming out.

I must say that I keep hearing occasionally from other bishops, from some of our US congressman, and others that there is a lot of "science" that debunks the current science that seems to overwhelmingly corroborate that we have a serious humanmade problem on our hands. I have asked these folks, sometimes in person, sometimes in writing to supply me with this science or at least links to it, and I still have yet to recieve it. In all seriousness I would like to see the other side. I asked Professor James to direct me to some. He was at a loss saying that there are many articles debunking it, but hard science he had not seen either. We have a problem and a short time in which to address it, but I keep saying I am willing to look at the side that says we have no problem, or at least it is not a human made one.

This afternoon a special hearing was called to listen one final time to the reflections group, putting together the final draft of our reflections of these past weeks. If you were expecting a definitive answer on matters, you will most likely be dissappointed, but what lies behind it and I believe a lot of what will be in the statement, will speak to what Anglicanism is all about, what Lambeth is supposed to be about, and will be an investment that is well worth if for our future. What can't be captured in a statement of any kind are the miraculous meetings that occur at lunch, and dinner, and in the wonderful ques, lines, we stand in for everything. It is difficult to engage here and not learn, no matter where you are from.

The Church of Ireland provided evening worship. After dinner a plenary was offered in which four of our stewards, the young people from all over the communion, offered their reflections of these past weeks. Just a reminder, the stewards are those folks who wear bright yellow jackets, with "Steward" written across the back and direct us. They are essentially crowd control, and yet so much more. Stewards from Southwest Florida, the Seychelles, South Africa, and the UK offered reflections and then opened the floor for questions. It was pointed out that when questions have been taken this week they have been written on cards and turned in, but not tonight, they were taken fresh, off the cuff, from the floor.

This was amazing just as I thought it would be. These are truly stunning young people, divinity school students and graduates, cardiovascular medical students, and the list goes on and on. Some of them are in youth ministry now, some wanting to be ordained. Solo from the Seychelles wanted us to know that mass is often boring, sermons boring, music too slow and old. He also wanted us to know that even when it does not seem like it they want to know, youth love for you to tell them your stories.

Penny from the UK said that all she knew of bishops was that you had to clean up the church before they came, and it usually just meant more work for her. But, she said, "after spending these three weeks with you I can say you all are pretty colorful characters. " Please, she asked, don't wait for us, let us use our skills and talents now. In one of the more poignant moments she said to us, that being with us these three weeks has given her great hope and has fed her desire to be ordained. She said, 30 years from now I hope I will be here, wearing a purple shirt! This was greeted with raucous applause (think about that, a bit of a informal vote!) She hesitated and said, "When I have recently told my friends this, they have said, don't be silly, the Anglican Communion won't be here in 30 years!" She said, these past three weeks have made her know it will be and she implored us to stick with it, and she promised if we did, her generation would care for it too.

When they were asked what we should do about this, and I believe our own Nedi Rivera asked them this question, they said we need better music and maybe some dancing! I am sure Nedi liked that answer! Maybe hip hop once in a while. The next questioner told them not to expect him to hip hop dance, it would not be pretty. He then asked what is there not enough of? To which the wise Penny replied, "Not enough hip hop dancing!" While it was funny, I think we need to hear it. What we may least like to do, or feel we are least equipped to do, may be exactly what is needed. And we may just need to get comfortable enough to do it!

They went on to say we should not wait for youth to respond to what we have created for them, but instead ask them to create it.

When they were asked what they most loved about Jesus, they responded with his coolness, his good attitude, one said that Jesus could cry and showed sorrow for his friends.

When they were asked what specifically brought them hope in watching us these past weeks they said, the relationships they saw building here, the diversity, and as one put it so well, seeing people talking to each other not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Amen to that!

Blessings,

+Greg

Friday, 1 August 2008

Lambeth, August 1st


Dear Ones,


Today was "Ordinary Day 10" You may note as we did that ordinary day 9 was left out, it was left out in our agenda as well. Don't know where 9 was, we can only hope that was not the day everything would have been revealed! In all seriousness, our good work goes on. I have to tell you this day was a good one. It began once again with Eucharist at 7:15 a.m. provided by The Church of Pakistan, breakfast, and then Bible Study, today on John 15: 1-17. We then went to our Indaba group where we continued our discussion of scripture and also recieved the third draft of the listening group who is diligent working on a response from us. Amazingly, with only a few minor changes, the whole group really appreciated and liked it! While nothing we put out will solve many of our problems, our relationships continue to build and we do continue to find common ground among one another. We then had a break and then another Indaba meeting. At this meeting we discussed the proposed covenant and especially the St. Andrew's Draft. Regardless of what you might have heard about the inevitability of such a document, there is far from overall agreement on this. However, the document has provided an excellent way to discuss our life together.


In the midst of our discussion today on the covenant and a possibility of one, I was reminded, and shared with my Indaba group, that incursions into dioceses by non-jurisdictional bishops have been going on since before the last Lambeth Conference. In fact, I remember being on a conference call with my then bishop, Bishop Larry Maze of Arkansas as he discussed with then Archbishop Carey the fact that the Bishop of Rwanda was coming into Arkansas and functioning without permission. Nothing was done then, and the AMiA grew out of this. This was long before the ordination of Gene Robinson as bishop. While this has been going on for some time, it will most likely continue, but I do believe progress has been made. Will it be enough for all? I doubt it, but quite frankly there is not enough we could do for some who have made up their mind. One of our 38 primates told the press even before the retreat was over and this conference had officially begun that the communion "was over." While we disagree about much, this kind of leadership will not lead us forward toward the counter cultural response Jesus calls us to.


In my Bible Study today one of our members told us the story of Ghandi, once given a New Testament. He read it all in short order and then entered a Christian church some weeks later. He walked out and commented that he saw no resemblance whatsoever in what he experienced that day and what he had read of Jesus in that book. The vast majority here are trying to remember that.


Tonight, evening worship was provided by the Church of the Province of South East Asia. Lively and good! Tonight I attended the Affirming Catholicism presentation which was excellent and well attended.


The press remains frustrated, so much so that many of them are making up stories, and misquoting as well. Read it if you must, but please don't believe it without some true research and inspection.


Blessings as you greet August,


+Greg

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Lambeth, July 31st


Dear Ones,


Today was Ordinary Day 8. Eucharist was offered by The Anglican Church of Burundi. The theme for the Day was "Listening to God and Each Other: The Bishop and Human Sexuality" My Indaba group, as I told you yesterday, did this yesterday. Today my Indaba group took up scripture and the interpretation of it. As most discussions we found differences, but some real genuine listening and those that prepared their interpretations as asked were just wonderful. In my Bible Study yesterday we did this and the presentations, interpretations we very inspiring. We joked that several sermons were offered for future use!


This afternoon Nedi and I had a delightful meeting with Bishop Michael Sande, Bishop of Butere, in the Anglican Church of Kenya. We had a good discussion over lunch about possible work together on mission in the future. I then went to a special meeting provided by Coventry Cathedral here in Britain on Reconciliation. Many of you will know of the Community of the Cross of Nails, based in reconciliation. In WWII Coventry Cathedral was bombed and virtually destroyed. The back wall near the altar survived and two charred pieces of wood fell in the shape of a cross. That cross still stands with words inscribed in the wall. "Father Forgive." As the story goes, people asked the then Provost, don't you mean "Father forgive them?" And the Provost wisely said, "no, we all need forgiveness, we have all fed into this." As they say he decided that the Christian way was one of counter culture. Would that we had more leaders live out of this model today! Amazing stories of reconcilation were told in their work around the world especially in Muslim/Christian conflict in Africa. You can find more about this at http://www.coventrycathedral.org.uk/


After this I attended my self select workshop of the day which was on the consequences of climate change, this day especially in Sub Saharan Africa, most particularly Sudan and Burundi. Excellent presentations by both bishops of these regions. They are seeing complete changes in seasons, farming, they are seeing nomadic people having to move farther and farther each year in order to live as they have in the past.


Tonight's evening worship was Night Prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book, a beautiful book and provided by the Province of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia.


Our relationships are continuing to build and deepen. I am not sure what all that will mean at the end of this time together but I do feel a spirit hoping for a way forward. I am still putting together my thoughts on this historical time and event and promise to provide it when the conference ends, but I do want to allow it to be lived in and to its fullest. Until then, I promise to keep you informed of my vision of things on the ground.


I end tonight with the Litany of Reconciliation from Coventry Cathedral.


Following the bombing of the Mediaeval Cathedral in 1940, Provost Dick Howard had the words 'Father Forgive' inscribed on the wall behind the Altar of the ruined building. These words are used as the response in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, which is prayed in the ruins every Friday at noon, and is used throughout the world by the Community of the Cross of Nails.


A Litany for Reconciliation


All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,

Father Forgive.


The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,Father Forgive.


The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth, Father Forgive.


Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,Father Forgive.


Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,Father Forgive.


The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,Father Forgive.


The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,Father Forgive.


Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.


Indeed,


+Greg


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Lambeth, July 30th




















































Dear Ones,


Today was "Ordinary Day 8". The proposed theme was "Living Under Scripture: The Bishop and the Bible in Mission." And so it was, for most of the day. My Indaba group however has had a quiet revolution of sorts, hoping to tackle more of the hard questions earlier, so we moved to human sexuality today. This discussion was one of the best we have had. It is clear that we come from many different places and have many different experiences and yet everyone in our group listened, and proclaimed in a very graceful way.


Still, the best part of this for me is the Bible Study group. After our usual Eucharist at 7:15 provided today by Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui, we went into our Bible Studies to look at John 11: 1-44. The deepest conversations are happening here and I wish we had more time with this group. Although our Bible Study groups are folded into an Indaba group, with four other bible studies, you lose the intimacy and we are often not together much in that group. Still, as I said, the discussions were quite good!







There was a hearing today regarding the listening group and the final paper to be released upon our departure. It was filled with all sorts of ideas of course! I am hoping we can surprise the world but I am not sure there is time to do so. We need more than, as one eloquent Brit put it, "our holiday snaps!" to send back! I can tell you no matter what the whole leaves with, individuals, including me will have much to share, pray about, and many to be in communion with, not just ideas or abstract realities, but real people.



My self select session today was with NT Wright, Bishop of Durham and a great writer and bibilical scholar. His recent book Simply Christian has been very important to me. He spoke on The Bible and Tomorrow's World.

I then headed off to clean up a bit for my evening at the Old Palace, the Archbishop's residence in Canterbury, in the Cathedral precincts. It was a lovely evening. The Archbishop, his wife Jane, and son Pip, have been entertaining us here for night upon night. If you can imagine hosting over 1200 people but parceling them out in small enough batches to make it all workable. I am not sure how many they have done but it is amazing. One picture above of the people milling around a yard, if you look at the part of the palace in the background, one guide casually stated that this part had been there since the time of Anselm.

I am putting lots of pictures in tonight. Some I just got today from the London day at Buckingham and some from tonight at the Old Palace and one from NT Wright's presentation. At Buckingham Palace, I was amazed to see Marshall McReal, member of the Compass Rose Board!

After the Old Palace, I came back and made my way to two more events, both fringe events. First the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals which promotes the care of all creation but with a special emphasis on bringing to attention and curbing the abuse of animals. I then left and went to the last of the conversations with Bishop Gene Robinson. What I witnessed there was amazing. This was the kind of discussion I wish we were seeing everywhere here. One bishop from a part of the world where this is a very difficult thing to abide, stood and said to Bishop Robinson, "I came here tonight to listen, to hear more, to know more. The reality is that this is just too difficult for our people to take right now, but in meeting you tonight, I wish to tell you that, my brother, I do love you. I will pray for you, and I hope you will pray for me." This was the kind of dialouge the group sponsoring was hoping for. There was a very good crowd present.

Of course, the very top picture is my tribute to Seattle. A Starbucks literally right at the doorway of the Cathedral.

Now, it is off to bed. Many blessings to you all.

+Greg




















Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Lambeth, July 29th


Dear Ones,


This was "Ordinary Day 7" however, it was not quite as ordinary as the others. Today the theme was Equal in God's Sight: When Power is abused. Seems we certainly need to listen to such a theme! We still had morning worship at 7:15 provided by the Anglican Church of Canada. If there are churches or provinces here that seem to be the brunt of the "problem" it would be us and the Anglican Church of Canada. Today Bishop Mark McDonald, our former bishop of Alaska and now the Bishop for Indiginous People gave the sermon. It was fantastic as it often is. His best line, which I think I will get right is this, "The only thing strange here is grace." It reminded me of one of my favorite lines, "Grace is hard to take." It is difficult, because we don't want to believe that grace is for everyone, unearned, free, plentiful. Instead we prefer to believe as we see the world live, that things have to be earned, even grace.


The agenda from the ordinary day changed today as we moved from breakfast, not to Bible Study, but to the Big Top, everybody, bishops and spouses. When we arrived at the Big Top the men were seperated from the women and we sat in the Big Top, segregated by gender. We began the topic of violence, especially against women, but also against all those who are not in power. We began with a play which was just superb. I have posted a picture from the play above. It was a montage of sorts of all of the miracles of grace performed by Jesus, the times he healed, women, who were seen as outcasts of their times. Jesus broke all the social codes in doing so. We then had a dramatic reading by the same actors of II Samuel 13, the rape of Tamar. We were put in groups of three to discuss this study and the issues. I was in a group with two from Africa, and our sharing and our cultural learning was amazing. They shared with me that in both their countries, men with AIDS believe they can be cured of AIDS by having sex with a virgin girl. So, they are having sex with even thier own daughters, often infecting them. In only one of the two countries is this a crime.


At one point we were told, and not very far into our study that the stewards, the wonderful young people who have come from all over the world to do just about everything from ushering, guiding, serving, had reported that since we had started the study (less than an hour) over 100 men had left the tent, and no women. Later it was reported that actually a few woman had left but the disparity is still worthy of notice. Some men stood and complained about our taking on this topic, only one woman did. One woman from the West stood to complain that we were segregated and did not understand why that was done. As she said, "If we cannot talk together about this in this safe place where will we be able too." I was so proud of the leader who said, "The answer is simple, many women in this room do not find this a safe place." In essence the questioners "culture was showing." She is not to be singled out. We are all learning such lessons, one of the great things about this bringing together of so many different cultures from so many different contexts. Chaplains were provided for those who needed to talk after this discussion and they were available all day. I found this to be one of the best pastoral moments of the conference and a much needed thing to do. It was a response to a large number of people who have no voice.
Our House of Bishops met in the afternoon for announcements. We then met with bishops from Africa. I set a meeting with two bishops from Kenya for Thursday. Nedi and I will be be speaking to them about mission possibilities between the two dioceses. We then had our usual Bible Study, today on John 10: 11-18, the Good Shepherd. We then went to Evening worship presided over by the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma), the area still reeling from cyclones and flooding. At the end of that service, Archbishop Rowan Williams gave his second presidential address to the combined assembly. I found it to be a very courageous speech. He, at great risk by his own assessment, attempted to spell out in his own words the two very different perspectives present on the edges of this event and I must say I think he did a very good job with this. The feeling among many was that his address proved at least one point, he gets it. He does see the different perspectives and additionally, how the opposite edges view each other.
Where will all of that take us? We will see. Still, a general goodwill is still in the air, and hope as well. The only thing strange here is grace. Thank God for it!
Blessings,
+Greg


Monday, 28 July 2008

Lambeth, July 28th


Dear Ones,


Well, Ordinary Day number 6. Glad to have the rest of yesterday as today was very full. Started with Eucharist provided by the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean. These folks are so very beautiful, graceful, grace-filled. Breakfast, bible study, today on John 10:1-10. I have to say this has been the greatest blessing to me in this Lambeth, this Bible Study. Today I post a picture we took today of this fine group.


We then went to Indaba group. This is interesting and trying. The first draft came to us in this group today from the Reflections group, made up of one listener from each Indaba group, so 16 people in all. Let's just say that the draft incited quite a discussion, but all of this is good. People are talking. That is what we are here to do.


I had lunch with Bishop Ed Little, a great colleague in the House of Bishops and a wonderful exemplar of reconciliation and grace. After lunch, there was the second hearing from the Windsor Continuation Group. If you are paying attention at all you will know that this has made a splash around the communion now. Today, this group presented some new information, among that a request to have the moratoria on same-sex blessings, consecrations of practicing gay persons, and incursions to be in place indefinitely. There is also provision for a "holy office" as many are calling it, or a faith and order commission. The room in which the hearing was held was at least 120 degrees and I am only slightly exaggerating. It was not a good setting. About 20 people spoke in the one and half hour session. It was civil and everyone stated clearly their case. We are clearly not of one mind on many of these issues. The Archbishop has made it clear we will not be deciding these items at this conference and I trust him on that, but this is our time to share our concerns and our hopes.


Then, in the afternoon, self select workshops. I once again attended the Climate Change workshop. Today the bishops of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh spoke of the changes in their regions. I find these fascinating and I am getting to know bishops from around the world and to learn a bit more about the issues that face them and their people.


Evening worship was provided by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. It was beautiful but the Big Top was hot! Today was to be the hottest day of our stay here. It lived up to its billing!


Very disconcerting during the day was an email I received from a youth contingent from our diocese traveling in the Holy Land. 4 of our youth were just inches away from a women who was murdered before their eyes. They are all unharmed physically, but emotionally are shaken. I spoke with the adult sponsor tonight. They were scheduled to come home anyway in a few hours and will be. Please pray for them, for those affected by this death, and for peace in the Middle East.
I am also mourning the passing of two saints of St. James', Austin, who died within 24 hours of each other. Ms. Hortense Lawson and Mr. James Means. I once said that if I had to put a voice on God, it would be Hortense's voice. I will hear it in my prayers forevermore. I give thanks this night for their lives. They both taught me so much. May they rest in peace.


And then tonight, in plenary, we had perhaps one of the best presentations of the conference and one of the best I have ever heard, from Rabbi Jonathan Sachs, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. He spoke on what covenant means and he spoke of two different covenants, the covenant of fate, and the covenant of faith. He made a good case that the covenant of fate is what holds us together and is so important to hold us together. I hope this speech will somehow be available to the world, because it is worth hearing again and again. One of my favorite quotes he gave tonight was this. "If we were absolutely totally different, we would not talk to each other, and if we were absolutely totally alike, we would have nothing to talk about." He further said, "the very premise of covenant begins in difference."


He received a long standing ovation and another after answering several questions. It was an uplifting evening and a good end to this day.


A good rain and nice thunderstorm is rolling through, until tomorrow,


Blessings,


+Greg

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Lambeth, July 27th







Dear Ones,

OK, I am going to admit, I took a day off! Sunday was a very light day, nothing required although several things offered and I just decided to not be "on the program" today. So, I slept in a little more than usual, cleaned up a few things around the little room I have, walked to the train station and went to the town of Whitstable, which is a beach town. They happened to be having their annual Oyster Festival this weekend. So, I took part in these festivities and, on beautiful day, hung out with normal, everyday people. I didn't have to have an ID badge and there was not "the next thing to get to." I went swimming and enjoyed the gorgeous day! Of the two pictures above, one did not turn out quite like I had hoped, the crates sitting there are all filled with old oyster shells. And the sign reads, "Oyster Shell Recycling" subtext: used to build new oyster breeding grounds.
Train back to town, dinner, and now I am writing you. I took some pictures of the beach and the town above. In many ways it reminds me of our part of the world but there are no snow topped mountains and I do miss those!

One of the pictures above is of Luke Fodor, Network Coordinator for ERD and me at the Episcopal Relief and Development booth here at the Marketplace at Lambeth. Luke's wife is from our neck of the woods and he secretly loves us very much! Of even more interest are the pictures you see in the booth behind the two of us. These are pictures taken by Laura Ellen Muglia on her mission to Tanzania. Olympia is incredibly represented here!

I also wanted to send along this link to the music that goes along with the words I put in the blog last night. This is Jack Barben singing. Jack is an extrordinary musician. Some of you will remember him from the convention last year, and he has led music in several other workshops and conferences. Jack is currently the Director of Music at St. Benedict's, Lacey. Here is the link to "Let the Broken ones be healed."

Blessings!
+Greg