Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Frank Griswold's swan song

Chris Johnson at MCJ has already done a thorough study of Frank Griswold's final Sunday sermon as Presiding Bishop of ECUSA, but I was so transfixed when I read it today that I thought I'd focus on a few of the highlights myself, just as a sort of farewell. The man makes great copy, you have to admit it.

Archbishop Griswold was in England this past weekend, and preached at St. John's Anglican Church in Notting Hill.
I am very grateful to your vicar, Father Taylor, for the invitation to preside at this morning’s Eucharist and to break the bread of God’s word.
Or break the word of God's bread...or eat the bread of God's spirit...or bread the cutlet of God's work...or....
I do so with a mixture of emotions on this, the last Sunday of my time as Presiding Bishop, chief pastor and Primate of the Episcopal Church. Next Saturday my successor, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, will be formally proclaimed Presiding Bishop during a liturgy at the Washington Cathedral. My reason for being here in London has been to introduce Bishop Katharine to his Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury. While I have known Archbishop Rowan for many years – our friendship dating back to his days as a professor at Oxford – my successor had yet to meet him. It was an immensely positive and fruitful exchange.
I told Kate that "fruitful" was a better word than "frank", but she wouldn't listen to me. Those blogging skunks cracked the old code a while back, and now they know that "frank" is just one step below "robust", which translates as "hairpulling and fisticuffs".
During our meeting we were able to share recipes mutual concerns and hopes for the future of our Communion and its ministry of service to our broken and needy world.
Emphasis on the NEEDY, there. When your cathedral's held together with duct tape, and the pillars are ready to fall...WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Uncle Sugar, that's who. Just remember that when you're raising funds for a new roof. You can get in good with 815, or you can try to squeeze a few goats out of those African primates, and see how far THAT'll get you. I'm just sayin'.
The Anglican Communion, through its international consultative council, has committed itself to gender equity in all of its representative and consultative bodies. The election of Bishop Katharine to serve as 26th Presiding Bishop, and therefore Primate, is a first step toward bringing gender balance
And color coordination. And proper accessorizing.
to what until now has been an all male preserve.
It's not for us, you see. It's for the children.
There are those who have indicated that they will not sit at the same table with her. I do hope that once they meet her as a person, rather than as a fabrication of the Internet, they will be able to sense the depth and authenticity of her faith, and to recognize her as a sister in Christ and a fellow bishop.
But speaking of the Internet, did you see that funny picture on Susan Russell's blog of the monkeys wearing mitres? HOO HAW! Just go look it up, then turn off your computers; you don't need to know any more than that.
It is ironic that though women represent the majority of the Anglican Communion, their voices and their reconciling views are woefully underrepresented.
And an even bigger majority of the Episcopal Church is composed of clapped-out old prunes, but thank goodness we they don't have any problem getting their views represented.
How easy it is for us – personally, ecclesially and nationally – to live with blinded sight. Unquestioningly and uncritically we accept prevailing attitudes, opinions and biases as self-evident, as true. The dullness of the familiar can so easily keep us from seeing the inequities, the untruths, the injustices that surround us.
You know what I'm talking about when I say "prevailing" - not the attitudes you'll find everywhere in the Episcopal Church, for at least a generation now. No, I mean the old-fashioned kind that still hang around in the few pockets of resistance we haven't managed to bankrupt or threaten into conformity yet. "Prevailing."
In my own country the naïve belief on the part of many that the United States can only do good in the world meant that many of us who spoke against the impending invasion of Iraq were labeled unpatriotic.
I just know that there's a file on me somewhere in the vaults of the Office of Homeland Security.
Now, as this unconscionable war drags on and on – costing thousands of lives due to deception and a president’s blind insistence on the rightness of his course – the eyes of many have been opened. Now, a season of sober self-examination has begun. But, alas, how quickly we forget what we have learned. How easily we revert once again to blinded sight. How eagerly we wrap ourselves again in the security of old chauvinisms and certitudes and the dark comfort they afford.
And by "we", I mean "they".
It was that same Jesus who said to his disciples “I still have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The historical Jesus has ascended as the risen Christ to the Father and is no longer with us. Therefore, wristbands which you see from time to time in the United States bearing the letters WWJD – What Would Jesus Do are irrelevant.
During the coffee hour, I'll be sharing with you my slides of some of the peculiar customs prevalent among the tribes of the United States. This particular one, of carrying a token to remind oneself of the example of a certain "Jesus", is something that I'm sure you will not encounter anywhere else in the world...
“Me racist? What do you mean?” This is the offended outcry sometimes heard in the United States, which, in spite of advances in the area of civil rights, is still profoundly racist.
And so your enemies deserve to be needled about it incessantly. Whereas "Me unpatriotic? What do you mean?" is the proper response of virtuous people like myself to any opposition, and of course permits no further reply.
And here I am obliged to acknowledge the historical complicity and studied unawareness on the part of the Episcopal Church, which we in recent days have publicly acknowledged and are seeking, with the help of the Spirit of truth, to overcome. The pain of that acknowledgement, particularly in the North – which is having to own its long overlooked participation in, and economic benefit from, the slave trade – is difficult to bear because it calls into question much of the presumed virtue of our forebears.
And there's absolutely NOTHING in the world more painful than acknowledging other people's sins. Why, thinking of my own is simply a breeze in comparison.
How many families or relationships survive only because truth is not told and dysfunction remains unacknowledged? And how frequently the one who tells the truth is castigated and declared an enemy and disturber of the peace.
When we all know that the real disturber of the peace is...George Bush. Not those noble bishops who bravely tell their wives and children the truth about who they prefer to get into bed with.
What are the many more things the risen Christ – who is himself the Truth – seeking to reveal to us through the workings and motions, the proddings and promptings of the Spirit of truth? How do we distinguish the authentic manifestations of the Spirit from those that are false?
I think money is always a good indication. After all, if God didn't think so much of us, we wouldn't be as rich as we are. So let us joyfully and passionately split the banana of God's bounty, as we look forward to many years of happy Anglo-American capital investment ventures and cathedral restoration projects.

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