Blogging bishops, July 22

Everyday life at the Lambeth Conference is settling into the bishop blogosphere. After the “high” of Sunday’s services and the beginning of what is called ordinary time – only the most committed blogging bishops seem to be posting today.

+Kirk Smith, Arizona has a video of happy bishops and writes:

Despite what you may read in the press, the mood here is good. Our indaba groups are positive with some frank and creative discussion. As Rowan Williams said, “If it is true that the Anglican Communion is coming apart, no one has told us.” I sometimes get the feeling that the “crisis” we hear so much about has been manufactured by the higher-ups, and that left to our own devices, we are doing just fine.

+Alan Wilson of Buckingham writes about why there were not many prepatory papers to read and how this might help the process be less dominated by those with laptops.

But here’s the doozy. Indaba only works once the process is aligned with the purpose. In the early stages it has understandably been necessary to be quite directive about set up, and to give timed exercises to get everybody interacting equally. Now the process needs to open up and change gear, so that voices arise with greater freedom, spontenaity and clarity. I suspect this change of gear will be quite challenging for right handed western males. I heard English bishops bemoaning yesterday about the shortage of preparatory papers. Imagine we had all arrived with our briefcases bulging with position papers. How discriminatory is that against brother bishops who don’t have laptop minds and a certain kind of education? How much of a distraction from the actual job of listening and interacting in real time with the flesh and blood human beings in the Indaba? An Indian brother told me that the English love to have all the answers in their briefcases before the discussion starts, but we agreed this isn’t that kind of discussion, and working exclusively in that mode has partly created the mess we’re in. We need to learn how to listen to fresher, more raw, less prepared voices, which are often more passionate, focussed on God, and formed by hard discipleship faithfuly undertaken.

So we have to start doing Indaba in an Indaba way, not a Western parody of it.

For a view from a non-Anglican, the blog by The Rev. Geoff Colmer, Baptist minister and representing the Baptist World Alliance at the Lambeth Conference, is fascinating. Today he writes on one of the sessions given by Brian McLaren, emerging church expert.

I liked the story [McLaren] told about being distinctive. He was speaking with Seventh Day Adventists who asked him, ‘Can we really keep the Sabbath in this day and age?’ And he answered, ‘Yes, but you can’t think it makes you right.’

A question [McLaren} asks often of people he meets who aren’t connected to a church goes like this, ‘I guess you don’t go to church. What do you think people like me need to hear?’ It’s a great question. He followed this with the lines of a song written by a friend, ‘An open hand is stronger than a fist, and listening is stronger than a shout.’ And his conclusion was the point that he made on Monday evening, biggest change requires example.

+David Walker continues his reports, today on finding holy space and his highlights and lowlights:

Situated just behind Dave Walker’s cartoon tent the Prayer Place is a haven of godly silence amidst all the conversation and business of the programme. It’s a roughly octagonal space one floor above ground level with a large amount of window. There’s a prominent central cross (life size, or do I mean death size?), and several items (icons, an open bible) symmetrically around the walls. There are a few chairs and then an inner and outer circle of prayer stools. It can sit (or kneel) around 50 plus people and does so for early morning prayers (I haven’t made it as far as Night Prayer yet) at 0630 each day. The rest of the time there are no more than a handful of people there, sometimes nobody at all, but somehow it feels as though this is what holds it all together.

Highlight of the day: supper with yet another African bishop who is keen to establish links and not at all put off by the Gafcon stuff.

Lowlight of the day: walking back to Park Wood past a stream of bishops holding hands with their spouses and missing my wife. Maybe I should explore Riazat Butt’s story about the escorts being laid on for lonely bishops, with most requests being for young women at night!

+Carol Gallagher, not able to attend the Lambeth Conference, reflects from a distance:

I am thinking today of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference, who will continue to struggle with where God is leading them and the Church. The reports come back about who is in and who is out. But I know that no one can shut another out of the love of God. The solid Rock of Christ, unchangeable and firm, is solid ground of love and inclusion. Christ is not a shifting ground of some in, some out, a season of inclusion and dismissal. May we all be planted on solid ground, building on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, who went to the cross that everyone might be embedded in the rock solid love of God.

+John Howe, Central Florida, is happier with his Indaba group today:

Nevertheless, I found my two “Indaba” conversations today somewhat more interesting than yesterday’s. The first one discussed the Church’s (the Bishop’s) ministry to young people. And, from across extremely different social and cultural contexts, in many different parts of the world, there were a few key points held in common. First, the Bishop’s personal involvement in meeting with young people can be enormously significant. Secondly, the high priority of training youth leaders, and providing opportunities for young people to meet together beyond their local congregations. And thirdly, the need to provide numerous opportunities for young people to hear and encounter the Gospel, and be given opportunities and encouragement to respond with personal commitment to Christ.

The Archbishop of Canterbury told the conference “theological education key in religious violence”:

“It seems to me that a lot of the religious conflicts we see around the world are intensified by ignorance and prejudice, the incapacity to get inside the skin of your own tradition and others,” he said. “Education is a part of making religion a resource for peace rather than a menace here, so I would see that as absolutely key.”

+Marc Andrus, California, writing on the official TEC blog, reflects on the I AM statements of Jesus. These are the basis for the Lambeth Conference Bible Study.

As we are drawn deeper and deeper into relationship with one another we find that the descriptors that may catch our attention at first, those associated with ethnicity and culture, rich and capable of being explored in depth as they are, do not begin to sum up human life. Gender, sexual orientation, economic status, all these are important too. And then we begin to learn the personal histories of people, certainly conditioned and connected to all the above, but articulated in unique ways having to do with the inner life of people, their gifts and aspirations.

At some point we may come to understand, as we perceive the deepest aspirations of another person, their courage and hopefulness in the face of their own life challenges, that we are seeing Christ in that person. Christ speaks I AM from within all life, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.

What Jesus, when he speaks of himself without metaphoric mediation is about is affirming the goodness of creation and the apprehension of the depth of human beings within that creation. He reminds us that we are all “offspring of the divine,” and have the divine image planted within us.

The Lambeth Conference is reminding me of the life Baptism has drawn me into and prepares me for each day. I am trying to look for Christ in each person here.

Not a bishop but a Lambeth Steward, Allie Graham reports on being a “keeper of the gate” – and enjoying Rowan Williams obvious delight in the younger crowd who are at the conference. A great photo of “ArchieRo” at her blog.

The bishops of Maine continue their videoblogging explaining their Indaba groups and Bp. Knudsen’s facilitation of one group. Also a reminder to March for the MDGs with the Bishops on Thursday. Gretchen Lane is the videographer.

To follow the thoughts of the blogging bishops use this link for the continuous feed of their blogs – all in one place.

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