I return to Alaska today following a week of meetings with our brothers and sisters from the dioceses of Navajoland, S. Dakota, and N. Dakota. Our time together is always a blessing and a reminder that in Christ Jesus we are bound together despite distances and differences. We are further reminded that our Communion is defined by relationships and that these relationships are what make Jesus’ love, healing, and grace present and real. I leave Cincinnati reminded also that that the institution of the Church is part of our relationships and provides a broader context for us to understand that our Communion in Christ Jesus is always greater than the people in our local space, the people in our room.
I received the news of the statement by the Primates meeting in Canterbury. Into the media buzz of comments and reactions, I would simply remind us that The Episcopal Church remains a full partner in the Anglican Communion and, more importantly still, a full and living member of the Body of Christ Jesus. While we take seriously the statement from the Primates, and I, too, share the disappointment that has been expressed in response to it, we do well to recognize that we abide in Communion. The decision by the Primates (carefully couched in the context of the Institutional Church) does not break apart our relationship in the Anglican Communion and certainly not in the body of Christ. In fact, it serves to remind us that our Communion in Christ, our relationships with one another in Jesus, whose body was broken for us, are relationships that connect us with the suffering, woundedness, and alienation of others.
Relationship, Communion, can be difficult and painful work. But we believe that in Jesus, relationships and communion are also redemptive and healing and the way to peace, joy, and the Kingdom of God.
So we recommit ourselves to our relationships in Jesus. And we renew our willingness to walk together in the hard and painful work of striving for justice and peace, loving neighbor as self, and honoring the dignity of every human being, acknowledging that our vision or way of engaging this baptismal vocation may bring our relationships into conflict with others who see things differently. Trusting that our Lord, Jesus, is able to bear the pain of our wounded relationships, we continue in a faithfulness that accepts the faithfulness of others.
“In you, Lord, is our hope; and we shall never hope in vain.”
For an excellent explanation of the structure and functioning of the Anglican Communion, I suggest reading my friend Bishop Dan Edwards’ blog. A link is available on his Facebook page or on the Diocese of Nevada’s website.
The Primates did more than discuss The Episcopal Church. I encourage you to read the Communique from the Primates. http://www.primates2016.org