HOLY LONGING AND CHURCH BLESSINGS
It’s Thursday night, my twelfth night in Anaheim, the night before the last day of General Convention 2009. We are all tired, longing to be home; and we have faced grueling decisions. We have passed a budget with large cuts; they were necessary. We have made last second amendments and grown frustrated with parliamentary procedure. We have struggled with votes forcing us to think quickly about church and government issues. We have had to think quickly about the deepest theology and about the kindest courtesies. We have laughed thankfully with old friends. We have met some bright new faces. We have made some people rejoice; the same decision has offended others.
And tomorrow will be the last day. With it will arrive one of our most controversial resolutions, C056, presenting a way forward on the matter of blessing committed same gender relationships. Most of us have heard every argument for, and every argument against, going forward on this matter.
I have been chair of the “Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Church Music” committee, which has been crafting this resolution for the last several days; and, as chair of the committee, I will present it on the floor of the House of Deputies tomorrow. I will urge recommendation of the resolution. In fact, I hoped we would pass a similar resolution six years ago, because I desire good theological and liturgical order. Six years ago, we consented to the consecration of a partnered gay man as bishop, and I believe that was a good decision; but I wish we had been able to construct, first, the orderly way that we could recognize and bless his union. That would have been “decent and in order.”
There is a good chance C056 will pass. The tenor of the House of Deputies seems to be favorable. But I will also feel for my conservative friends in the House of Deputies, and across the church. They are already a disappointed minority in many places (certainly here), and my call is to minister to disappointed minorities. They will find comfort in a large majority across the Anglican Communion of churches, and in many individual parishes in The Episcopal Church; that is well and good.
I will pray, tomorrow night, for that perfected heavenly community where our love and affection overwhelm the differences between us. All of us know that holy longing. None of us is there yet, though we are given the grace to glimpse it in our smaller communities –maybe in our parishes and, God willing, in our own marriages and partnerships.
I am thinking of my partner now, whom I miss and long to see after two weeks. The two of us have known joy and disappointment together; we have known pain and grace together; through divine grace, we have even known God through each other. Our union is blessed by God and by the Church. It is because I believe in that Church blessing, that it should be available to everyone, that I will be supporting C056.