Monday, June 9, 2008


Saturday was a big day! I attended the wedding of our office assistant, Robin Heath. I celebrated the fifth anniversary of my ordination to the diaconate. And The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, celebrated a civil union to his partner of 20 years, Mark, two days after the fifth anniversary of his election as bishop of New Hampshire.

This coming together of vocations seems very fitting. Bishop Robinson writes about his pleasure in being bishop on the diocesan website. And the video below is a glimpse into the celebration surrounding the commitment that he and Mark have made to one another. Both events are vocational, that is, they are both about individuals becoming who God intends for them to be. Both commitments are life long containers in which one lives all the ups and downs of the journey of faith. Both are signs of self-offering, to God and to another person, which God blesses, and promises to give God's self to as well in order to sustain, nuture, and deepen the commitments.

That we deny the grace and commitment of marriage to those who would choose to embrace it is a scandal to the modern Church. That Mark and Gene have given themselves to one another and to God in the ways made possible by the state of New Hampshire and the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire is radical and prophetic and I am grateful for their faith, leadership, and love. Congratulations!

On 7 June 2008, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, and his partner of 20 years, Mark Andrew, had a civil union and church blessing. The service took place at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Concord, NH. The Rev. Susan Russell, President of Integrity, preached. Afterward, a reception and dinner took place at Canterbury Shaker Village. During the reception, Susan gave a 5-minute video interview about the blessed event...

Posted at Walking with Integrity

Monday, June 2, 2008

Clanging Cymbals?

I grew up in the Church (capital "C" meaning all of us Christians, whatever our stripes.) First we were Southern Baptist and I learned many, many Bible stories and was firmly rooted in Scripture. My family then joined the Presbyterian Church (USA) and I came to understand connected church, where each congregation is a part of a whole, not an island to itself. I studied theology and Bible and loved it. I then became an Episcopalian so that I could be a priest, celebrating the sacraments and worshiping with my whole self, body, mind, and spirit. So, I have been connected to the Church my entire life, with all its strengths and weaknesses. I stay because it matters to me to participate in the life of the Body of Christ, and because I've made vows.

Having said all that, this morning I found myself wondering if the Church had become clanging cymbals. I am often frustrated with the institutions of the Church, which are not divine, but human. I don't mean the Bible, or the Sacraments, or the gathering of people of faith, or even the orders of ministry. But there are so many dumb, inconsequential things that we get tied up about! We put up plaques all over our buildings, and we set up cliques inside the church, and we argue about where the platters go in the kitchen, and where are we?!

The problem I find myself in is that I really do believe in the Church, as the Body of Christ, gathered together to further the missio Dei. And that means putting up with all my - and others' - human frailties. I think in many ways the Church has become clanging cymbals - noise makers that serve little purpose and certainly don't glorify God. How do we escape such a sentence?

Paul talks about Clanging Cymbals in the 1st Corinthians passage about love. It's the favorite passage for weddings, but actually, Paul wasn't talking about romantic love (though romantic love includes what Paul was talking about.) He was talking about the Church and how we are supposed to behave. It seems those Corinthians were a lot like us and fought over who had the better spiritual gifts and probably over where the platters went in the kitchen, too. But we can do everything right, we can have beautifully maintained buildings, and all the right linens and vestments, and the right set of canons, and the right committees, and the right everything, and without love we've missed the point. We're supposed to be patient and kind and understanding of one another.

So, we can have all the wrong committees, all the wrong vestments and linens and platters in the kitchen, but if we have love, we have God. I have a hard time being patient and kind and understanding, and I know lots of other people who do, too, so it's not surprising that when we all get together at church it doesn't get easier, but harder, to love. I wish we could spend more of our time together learning to love and less of it fighting over who's allowed in and who's out, and over what set of linens to use today.