I have to admit that I’ve been a little desultory in following news from the Lambeth conference. Mostly, I’ve been reading Bishop Smith’s blog. So I was a little startled yesterday when he wrote about the news from the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and the pain it was causing. I had to go hunting in the ENS website to find out what was so surprising. Archbsihop Daniel, speaking for the Episcopal Church of Sudan, had issued a news release and held a press conference, in which he called for Bishop Robinson’s resignation. As you can imagine, this statement touched off a storm of controversy on the internet. I read statements suggesting that ++Daniel was the latest and greatest spokesman for orthodoxy and truth, and had the courage to stand up to the corrupt Episcopal Church US. I read statements suggesting that he was duplicitous, accepting money from ECUSA with one hand and stabbing us in the back with the other hand. I’m not going to link to any of these blogs, as the language was really quite startling, on both sides.
All of this would have seemed like so much more of the same, if I hadn’t actually met the man. He preached on Ascension Day here at Church of the Advent (see Brother Andrew’s blog). He was a gracious man, and we enjoyed his company. ECS also issued another statement at Lambeth asking for continued prayers and assistance in rebuilding Sudan and assuring adherence to the peace process. The Diocese of Missouri, of course, has a relationship with the Diocese of Lui in Sudan, and Advent has a relationship with the parish of Lozoh, and Deb has spent six months in Lui, and knows so many of the people there.
Also, out there on the blogosphere, there has even been a call for the Companion Diocese Committee of the Diocese of Missouri to end our relationship with Lui, because of what ++Daniel has said. I can’t go that far. I am surprised and hurt by what ++Daniel has said at Lambeth, but I am encouraged by what our bishop says about God finding a way toward unity out of this complicated communion. When Archbishop Ndungane was at Advent, just as the whole Windsor thing was getting started, someone at adult forum asked him if he thought the Anglican Communion would fall apart. He thought for a minute and said, “This morning I received communion from your rector. He and I are in communion. Nothing will change that.” ++Daniel also received communion here. Nothing will change that.
Every wound in the Body of Christ cuts both ways. But if we separate from anyone who hurts us, what chance will there ever be for healing? When Jesus shows up a second time to his disciples in John’s Gospel, Thomas is with them. Jesus invites Thomas to touch his wounds. Only then can Thomas exclaim, “My Lord and My God!” Thomas does not doubt. He refuses to believe in a Body of Christ that has no wounds. It is only when he touches the wounds that Jesus’ identity at last becomes clear (the disciples have been groping after it for the whole of the Gospel). I understand that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have been wounded so often that many would be unwilling to continue in relationship with ++Daniel, but I can only know he received communion at our altar, just like many on any Sunday with whom we disagree, with whom we argue, who have hurt us, and whom we have hurt. But the meal atones, or at least gives a foretaste of atonement. Until we eat it with Jesus in the Kingdom . . .