I don’t know when it happened, exactly. When I started thinking from my heart more than from my head. When relationships became more important than technicalities. When having folks gathered became more desirable than making sure everyone passed some membership test for inclusion. Lately though, as I’ve read friends’ blogs and this or that press release from the Episcopal Church, or read how folks are wrestling with some of the issues being bantered about inside the walls of the ecclesiastical battle zone, I’ve realized it’s time for me to cease and desist from my “if we all love Jesus, we can all get along” fantasies.
I have recognized in myself a desire for peaceableness, that may have been misinterpreted as complicity with the status quo. I have recognized an activism for justice that, while passionate (and even, from time to time, articulate) does not sufficiently plumb the depths of the Christian theological tradition. I have slacked off in my fervency for being able to give account of my faith. I’ve been relying on whatever I happen to retain in my memory from seminary and a few continuing education classes since then. I have mostly kept my opinions to myself and figured the part of Christ’s Church to which I belong would wobble around long enough that something would change. I would wait for change, but I didn’t see myself as having any way to contribute to whatever change might be on the horizon. I have been too timid. I have been too cautious. I have been too worried about keeping my nose clean and my mouth shut. I’ve got plenty of things from which to repent. So, I’m turning away from the intellectual atrophy today. I figure it will take a good year to get my brain back in shape. But nothing much will change until I do.
By the way, I don’t intend to lose heart. Relationships are still more important than technicalities. Gathering people around a table (whether the table is in the rectory, the parish hall or the sanctuary) is still more desirable than tests of membership. We probably won’t all get along, even though we all claim to love Jesus. And, yes, I realize most of the battles we fight inside the Episcopal Church are pointless (or even laughable) to the broader culture, but maybe we have to fight them precisely because we want to open our doors to those who pass by them on Sunday mornings on their way somewhere else. The love of Jesus and the call of the Gospel is probably enough for those outside our walls. For those inside the walls, a bit more intellectual fortitude will be required.