I wrote too soon this morning about Bonnie Anderson. I didn't realize she was preaching at today's Eucharist at General Convention. She preached an outstanding sermon! It's available from Episcopal Life, and at the General Convention Media Hub.
There's been some controversy about a sermon that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached earlier in the week in which she said that none of us are saved alone. That I am only save when you are saved. The Presiding Bishop is smart enough to know that this statement would distress our evangelical brothers and sisters both in the Episcopal Church and in other denominations. She must believe it's a pretty important point to be willing to risk disturbing some with her words. She must think it's very important that we understand that faith is not an individualistic reality - just me and Jesus - but a community journey - us together in Jesus Christ.
In her sermon today Bonnie talks about the importance of unity, which isn't uniformity of belief or practice, but loving community in Jesus Christ. She understands how Jesus calls and binds us together, and that he intends us to cling together - in the midst of disagreement, pain, joy, accord, and even death.
Bonnie tells the story of worshiping with a congregation in Ft. Worth, TX that meets in a community theater. On the Sunday she was with them they set up their makeshift sanctuary on the stage in front of a Hansel & Gretel set. The altar sat in front of the stew pot where Hansel ends up in the play.
Living in a diocese, that like Ft. Worth, has seen it's former bishop lead it away from the community of the Episcopal Church and eventually leave the church himself, I think the setting for that Eucharist is an apt metaphor. I have heard countless stories of people in San Joaquin who were essentially stewed by the bishop. As in Ft. Worth and Pittsburgh, clergy and laity who dared to oppose the bishop were threatened and punished. Many were viciously attacked and harmed.
Today, though, these diocese are communities of new life. Altars are being set up in odd places and in reclaimed spaces. The Eucharist is being celebrated at the very heart of where people were once being chased and stewed! Death has become life! Those who were humiliated and broken have risen together to be the Church.
Thanks be to God!