I've not been blogging for a bit, and it'd be good to be able to post another Advent piece, a poem perhaps or something I wrote previously that could do with an airing, but my Advent attempts at calm meditation have been disturbed by two things. One is ok, actually - I've been working on a sermon for Advent 3, all John the Baptist and making straight the way of the Lord, and though the results are perhaps more prophetic in tone than is entirely seemly in a lay preacher, I feel the contemplation that produced said results were a suitable occupation. The other, however, is not at all ok. It all began with reading a blog post which took me to a statement by the bishops of the only church I've ever actually belonged to. And this statement, about what The Church had to say about the things gay people may and may not do within its rapidly diminishing sphere of influence, disturbed me to such an extent that I've thought of little else all week.
And this morning the same blogger posted this very measured and gracious piece, and I felt disturbed all over again. Because I'm not feeling at all measured and gracious, and I have made no promises about maintaining peace and unity and besides I'm feeling restless and rebellious. And in writing this, I hope to do two things.
The first is to apologise to anyone, gay or straight, within the church or - more likely - outside it and looking on incredulously, and to tell them not to write off all Christians, all Episcopalians, as being firmly stuck in the ignorant past and willing to sacrifice the wonderful gift of life in all its fullness on the altar of a variety of respectability and prejudice that was common in the 1950s. Some of us are raging because the church we love has turned its back on people we love and value - people who also love the church and want to play a full and joyful part in it.
And the raging brings me to the second thing. Rage in debate is seldom helpful, but sometimes it leads one to a vision of what leadership is all about. John the Baptist certainly didn't mince his words, and Jesus had a less than temperate way with those who ground down the poor, the outsider - the ones who didn't conform. We've had prophetic leadership in the SEC in the past, and we've seen that it's never easy for such leaders. But I long for such leadership. Where is the inspiration, the vision that would allow our church to shine as an example to 21st century society?
Finally, I realise I have a big problem with the way things are being done just now. If those in authority tell me privately that they're on the same wavelength as I am but they have to keep everyone on board, I'm not sure this is a lifeboat I want to continue in. If the captain and some very capable sailors tell you that the closest land is due east, and some of the more timid passengers want to go on sailing to America even though it's five times further because that's where they were originally going before the liner sank, which way would you want to go?
People, look east, I say. People, look east.