Daily Archives: September 14, 2007

Alberta Anglicans vote to bless same-sex unions

“We’re ready to go,” Rector Emma Vickery said of the church’s preparedness to start blessing committed same-sex unions.

“We’re ready to uphold and give a place for people to feel welcome. And when the time comes, we will be the first ones at the door.”

Maybe, but the identity statement approved by members of St. George’s Sunday doesn’t exactly read like an act of defiance. The document says such a blessing will only happen if the Bishop of the Edmonton Diocese is agreeable. And Victoria Matthews made it clear this week that such a blessing won’t be happening during the time remaining on her watch.

“As a bishop, I make a solemn promise to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada,” said Matthews, who recently announced she is stepping down from the post she has held for 10 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

VERY IMPORTANT: Full Bishops Report

Download it and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

From RNS: Episcopalians Head to High-Stakes Meeting

Among the issues Williams and the U.S. bishops will hash out in New Orleans are:

Has the Episcopal Church promised that it will not elect any more gay bishops?
Will Episcopalians pledge not to authorize any rites for blessing same-gender couples?
Will the Episcopal Church create a separate leadership structure for dissident conservatives?
Some Episcopalians argue that the church answered the first question last summer when it called for “restraint” before electing bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the Communion.”

And the national church has never authorized any rites for same-sex blessing, said the Rev. Ian Douglas, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. (Some local dioceses do permit the blessings.)

Still, people looking for easy answers may leave New Orleans disappointed, Douglas said. “All too often, those who are fostering division within the Anglican Communion seek to make international Anglican meetings lines in the sand,” he said. “As Anglicans we believe that life in the body of Christ is much more complex.”

But conservatives in the U.S. and abroad ”” particularly leaders in the Global South””say Episcopalians must go further to bring themselves in line with the rest of the Communion.

Read it all. And the national church has never authorized any rites for same-sex blessing says Ian Douglas. This is a preview of the kind of games which will be played with C051 in New Orleans, which were played in 2003 and have been played since. That resolution led more dioceses than before to get involved in the practice of blessing same sex unions. That is the issue, it further legitmized the practice in more and more dioceses, official denials or legerdemain notwithstanding.

Tobias Haller rightly sees that what the Tanzania Communique asks for is this practice to cease. The key phrase is from Lambeth 1998 resolution 1.10 which says:

[Anglicans] cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions


This is what will be the key issue in New Orleans BEFORE any proposal about any primatial vicar can or should even be considered, because this is the mind and teaching of the Anglican Communion which TEC is being asked to embrace–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Ruth Gledhill of the (London) Times Speaks to Bishop Keith Ackerman

I was blessed to have the chance this week to speak to Bishop Keith Ackerman of the Quincy diocese. He says his diocese, on the Anglican-Catholic wing, has been ‘reserved’ in its response to the crisis and has not been aggressive in its pursuit of a solution. Nevertheless, the diocese has begun setting out plans that could see it leave TEC. ‘We are throwing ourselves on Rowan Williams’ mercy,’ Bishop Keith told me. ‘We want to persuade him to stop the haemorrhage that is taking place in The Episcopal Church. The haemorrhage is being grossly understated. There are now 53 denominations of continuing churches in the US. There are numerous parishes that are no longer under US jurisdiction. I’m led to believe there may be as many as 200 of these. One of the things that Lambeth 98 was terribly specific about was that the US needed to come up with a plan for them to re-enter the family. At Lambeth we said we would reach out to those who consider themselves of Anglican tradition. But there has been very, very little effort. More effort has been put into ecumenism with the Lutherans and United Methodists than with the various bodies of Anglican tradition. Frankly, I have much more in common with them than I do with Lutherans or Methodists.

‘We need to find a way to bring the family back together again.’

One peculiarity he pointed to was the lack of a legal entity called TEC. ‘What there is, is the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA. That is our name. That is how we are incorporated. So we were in effect supposed to be a missionary society. We did not have SPCK, we did not have CMS. We were to be the missionaries, particularly in unsettled parts of the US.’

So priests such as himself are today asking, where is the mission field? What is the real authority of General Convention? ‘I would say the average Episcopalian today feels disenfranchised,’ says Bishop Keith. (Sir Roy in his book says the parish church and indeed Church can only be saved by re-empowering the laity. To look back to England for a sec, I have always believed that every churchgoer should have a vote for General Synod, the Church’s Parliament. Putting deanery synods in the middle of the electoral process disenfranchises the laity, makes them uninterested and, in the final analysis, is killing the Church. It would save to much money, time and so many souls to kill off deanery synods instead. But it will never happen, believe me. When the Church of England is down to its last worshipper, served by 100-plus bishops and a thousand priests, there will still be people dozing in deanery synods up and down the land, wondering what they are doing and why on earth they are there. But I digress.)

Bishop Ackerman is distressed that the faith and practice that he was brought up in and has adhered to faithfully is simply no longer available in vast tracts of episcopaland. He regrets that there is no PEV, or flying bishop, scheme in the US but admits he functions very much like one, visiting parishes throughout the US desperate for a traditional pastoral oversight.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

From the No Comment Department

GENEVA, N.Y. (AP) — A western New York man faces grand larceny charges after being pulled over in a car that he said he stole so he could turn himself in on another charge.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the BBC: What future for Anglicanism?

The problem for Anglicans is that they cannot agree on how to interpret the Bible, and therefore they arrive at very different views on a number of moral issues.

For conservative Anglicans, the Bible is clearly opposed to homosexuality. Liberals say that Jesus was silent on the issue.

What is clear is that the debate over sexuality is not going to be over soon, but in the meantime African Anglicans are seizing the initiative and creating new branches of their churches inside the United States.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Interview with Bishop Bill Atwood: Why the US needs orthodox bishops

One hundred years ago, Western missionaries were sent to Africa to convert the heathen and spread the gospel of peace. But now the tide has turned, according to conservatives, after a bumper crop of US priests were consecrated in the heart of Africa this month. Their mission? To head back to the States and minister to Anglicans disillusioned with the increasingly liberal Episcopal Church which, they claim, tore the Communion asunder with the consecration of a gay bishop in 2003.Last week the Churches of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda all consecrated their American ”˜flying bishops’ on African soil ready to send them back to troubled traditionalist congregations in the US.

The Church of England Newspaper managed to catch up with one of the newly consecrated Kenyan bishops, the Rt Rev Bill Atwood, and asked him a few questions. Bishop Atwood was consecrated alongside Bishop William Murdoch and is now back in the United States ready to commence his ministry. We asked him, in view of the ongoing ”˜process’ within the Anglican Communion, whether proceeding with appointing these new bishops was not a little hasty. “The Primates of the Anglican Communion acted unanimously to call on the Episcopal Church to conform to Anglican teaching and practice by September 30,” he answered.

“Well prior to that date the House of Bishops decided that they did not need to wait until September 30 to decline to conform to what was asked. The Executive Council refused to conform as well.” He continued: “In addition, numerous dioceses have already indicated that they intend to proceed with the same agenda that has already caused the ”˜fabric of the Communion to be torn’.” He added: “We are, essentially past September 30 already.” But, we asked, if TEC are barred from the Anglican Communion, or similar,will traditionalists not lose some of the moral high ground in the debate? “No,” Bishop Atwood affirmed, “The consecrations were the logical extension of the call in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué for care to be provided for the faithful.

“When one looks at those who were consulted and those that came to Nairobi, it is clear that a consensus among Global South leaders was reached about the consecrations.”

And what about Archbishop Rowan Williams stance in all of this, has he not sided with the traditionalists so far? “Archbishop Williams joined in with all the Primates of the Communion in affirming historic Christian belief in Dar es Salaam,” he replied. “It is interesting (though sad) that all the Primates of the Communion could unanimously agree on the content of the Communiqué in (and from) Dar es Salaam, but that agreement has not produced any amendment of life or change of agenda from the Episcopal Church. “Those in leadership in the Communion (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) have been undermined by the actions of the Episcopal Church.” But, we asked Atwood, has Dr Williams even been consulted about these recent appointments? “I know that his office was informed, but I do not know of any response,” he said. Many critics feel that consecrating these US bishops in Africa is schismatic and separatist. But what does Atwood feel about this view? His answer suggested that there is more at stake here than first meets the eye-it is not just a gay issue. “What is going on is a clash of worldviews,” he answered. “One is an historic Biblical world view and the other is a post-modern progressive worldview. “The Biblical world view begins with God and his revelation to the world in Scripture and in Jesus Christ. We are called to conform to God’s revelation.

“The post-modern progressive worldview begins with ”˜us’, and applies moral relativism with man as the judge of propriety.” And how will inter-Anglican relations look after the deadline, set in Dar es Salaam, which called for a response from TEC before September 30 promising not to appoint another gay bishop? Is this the end of the Anglican Communion? “The Communion was torn in 2003,” Bishop Atwood states. “The only way to restore it is to restore Biblical (Anglican) teaching, discipline, and practice; and move forward with those who are willing to consult and mutually submit. There was an unprecedented level of consultation, collaboration, and agreement leading up to the Nairobi and Uganda consecrations.”

He added: “Because of that, we pray that they will be fruitful.” As he returns to the US to prepare for his ministry, together with fellow Bishop Murdoch, he will have oversight of 32 US congregations. Likewise the Ugandan bishops also consecrated last week will oversee 33 US congregations. Times are strange in the Anglican Communion and many are highly critical of these latest appointments. Many Anglicans fear the power of the Global South Church, and feel that the Archbishop of Canterbury has not done enough to deal with them. The Rev Martin Reynolds, a gay priest in South Wales, told this paper that he feared at least 10 more western bishops were lined up for similar African consecrations. He says that the breakaway church has had scant regard for the directions of Canterbury. These latest appointments graphically show an increasing dichotomy between those loyal to the Windsor process and those who, like Bishop Atwood, have simply ”˜had enough.’

–This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper of september 14, 2007, on page 12

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Jack Estes: Invalid Trust

Consider the situation of a small parish somewhere in the ranks of The Episcopal Church (TEC). Decades ago faithful men and women formed a community of worship in accordance with their faith, obedience, and trust in God. They affirmed and upheld the essential tenets of Christian belief, including the doctrines of Christ, the authority of scripture, and a biblical morality as affirmed by the tradition of the church for 2,000 years.

This faithful local church community gave of its time and resources. The church bought property with the money its members gave of themselves. They built buildings and planted trees. They engaged in ministry and called a rector. As the years went by, they invested their trust in God, in each other, and in The Episcopal Church. They honored the conditions of this trust, and the authority of their rector and bishop. All shared in the benefits of this sacred trust ”” generation by generation.

Then one day, this parish finds itself with a new rector and a new bishop who declare that Jesus is not the only means of salvation, scripture has authority only when we say it does, and biblical morality is outdated and must be modernized according to what we think is right. The parish is told to accept this new interpretation of Christian belief and practice. The parishioners’ trust has been betrayed. The very fabric of communion has been torn at its deepest level.

Of course, this is exactly what is happening to parishes all over the church. TEC is in the process of perpetrating an immense and corporate violation of trust. What is outrageous is the fact that the perpetrators continue to lay claim to the benefits of the covenant, namely the property that was bought and paid for by the faithful Christians through the decades who, had they foreseen, never would have given a dime to this new religious order.

TEC asserts that all property is held in trust ”” people may leave but parishes and dioceses may not. But this trust is invalid. It is a unilateral trust in which TEC receives all the benefits with no accountability. Trust means you trust us and we do whatever we please. If you don’t like it, get out, and we keep your investments.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology

President Bush Orders Gradual Troop Cuts in Iraq

President Bush, defending an unpopular war, ordered gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq on Thursday night and said, “The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home.”

Yet, Bush firmly rejected calls to end the war, insisting that Iraq will still need military, economic and political support from Washington after his presidency ends.

Bush said that 5,700 U.S. forces would be home by Christmas and that four brigades – for a total of at least 21,500 troops – would return by July, along with an undetermined number of support forces. Now at its highest level of the war, the U.S. troop strength stands at 168,000.

“The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is: return on success,” the president said, trying to summon the nation’s resolve once again to help Iraq “defeat those who threaten its future and also threaten ours.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Important: More is Dribbling out About the House of Bishops Meeting Proposal and its Details

– A group of active and retired bishops, all or most of them former attorneys, delivered a roughly 100-page report yesterday (9-13-07) to the Episcopal Church House of Bishops, accompanied by an “audio version” on disc. Among the authors, we predict, are the disgraced Joe Morris Doss, and Bishop of Lexington Stacy Sauls. Both bishops are former attorneys. The nature of this report is a “kick the can” proposal that includes at least two notable angles: The case as to why the HoB cannot reply to the demands of the Dar es Salaam communique (evidently a very detailed version of the ‘polity’ line the HoB has been peddling since its meeting in March); and some use of the data solicited by Sauls two weeks ago regarding the number and status of churches under foreign oversight. The latter may be part of a proposal to bring those churches ‘back into the fold’ somehow. As a whole, the document is to be offered as a ‘solution,’ but in fact defers all decisions to General Convention 2009.

– As reported earlier, Presiding Bishop Schori will present a modified primatial vicar plan. The proposed vicar will not be Bishop Howe of Central Florida. It will be a loyal institutionalist, slightly left of center, not known for speaking out one way or the other in the debate, and not in attendance at a single Camp Allen meeting….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

A Case Study for the Diocese of Pennsylvania: A Flashback to Jo Mo Doss’s Departure

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

NFL Fines Belichick, Patriots $750,000 For Spying

The NFL has fined New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and the team a total of $750,000 for videotaping an opponent’s signals. The team also has been told to forfeit draft choices.

The Pats were caught videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive signals during last Sunday’s 38-14 win at the Meadowlands.

CBS 2 HD has learned Belichick was hit with a $500,000 fine by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The team will have to hand over $250,000.

The Patriots will also have to forfeit at least one draft pick in 2008, but that will depend on how they finish this season. If they make the playoffs, they will lose a first-round pick. If they don’t make the postseason, they will give up their second-and third-round picks.

Belichick will not be suspended.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports, Theology

Bank of England to rescue UK lender

Northern Rock approached the Bank of England at the end of last week to discuss using the facility, people familiar with the situation said. The lender made its decision because it faced pressure to refinance obligations that are due to mature in the next couple of weeks.

Northern Rock executives were expected to say on Friday that the bank would try to work through its difficulties with the help of the Bank of England facility. However, the move is likely to make it hard for Northern Rock to remain independent in the long term. The bail-out is a devastating blow for the bank, which grew from its roots as a building society in the north-east of England to become the most efficient mortgage lender in the United Kingdom. Northern Rock declined to comment.

The rescue came as the Federal Reserve released data showing that direct loans to banks, through its discount window, had reached their highest level since the September 11 attacks.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Scott Carson's Crtique of John Millbank

This is written in response to this article posted yesterday–KSH.

Possibly Milbank has not studied the theology of the body: I suspect that certain sorts of theologians find the whole thing somewhat, well, kitschy, and I would not be at all surprised to find theologians such as Milbank, Loughlin, Pickstock, and other RO types falling under that rubric rather readily. But it is a very serious issue, and whether this particular teaching will ever “develop” in the way Milbank wants it to surely hangs more squarely on this question than on any other. If sexuality is an essential element in the essence of man whereby he comes to share in God’s creative aspect, then there is more to be said about this issue than that “love is a continuum from mere regard to blissful material union” or some such. Love may indeed be at least partly that, but to say that it is is not to say that that is all that it is. To know what love is in its entirety we must take the teachings of Our Lord in the greater context of our Tradition, within which it is clear that this teaching has been settled.

Once we realize that Milbank’s argument fails on theological grounds, it takes on a new aspect. Instead of arguing that idolatry can take many forms, we find that he is saying something along these lines: we live in a materialistic, hedonistic age, and in that sort of an age, people are going to do this sort of thing whether we want them to or not, and really, why should we care so much that they do this sort of thing when the harm principle, as it is understood in this sort of an age, cannot be invoked? Live and let live. That is clearly a much weaker argument, at least from the point of view of someone who is really radically orthodox. Whether the Radical Orthodox really are radically orthodox remains to be seen.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

4 New Bishops Elected to Serve CANA

From here; this more fully fleshes out the material in the second link in the post about Nigeria below.

(Herndon, VA) — The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) met in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria, on the 12th day of September 2007. They received a report from the Rt. Rev’d Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria in the USA. Acknowledging the significant growth of CANA that is taking place in the USA, the House of Bishops considered a request for additional bishops to further the work of CANA and the extension of God’s Kingdom.

After the meeting, the Primate, the Most Rev’d Peter J. Akinola, announced the election of four suffragan bishops and appointed them to serve in the USA. The bishops-elect are the Rev’d Canon Roger Ames (Akron, OH), the Rev’d Canon David Anderson (Atlanta, GA), the Ven. Amos Fagbamiye (Indianapolis, IN), and the Rev’d Canon Nathan Kanu (Oklahoma City, OK). The consecrations will take place in the USA before the end of 2007, at a date and place yet to be determined. These four bishops-elect will join Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and Suffragan Bishop David Bena in providing an indigenous ecclesiastical structure for faithful Anglicans in this country.

CANA currently consists of approximately 60 congregations and 80 clergy in 20 states. About a quarter of the congregations are primarily expatriate Nigerians. CANA was established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in the USA, who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church, could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions. CANA is part of the Common Cause partnership that includes representatives of more than 250 Anglican congregations that are connected to the rest of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide fellowship of some 70 million, through various pastoral and missionary initiatives.

Update: A Living Church article regarding this matter is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA

News Agency Of Nigeria Reporter Issues Retraction of Remarks About Bishop Orama

This is important. How many times have we said be Bereans and research yourself and do not trust something just because you read it on the Internet?

Read the Bishop’s whole address as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Church of Nigeria Vows Not To Deviate From Its Vision Despite the Challenges Being Faced

The Anglican Archbishop however challenged the 121 dioceses in the Church of Nigeria to intensify efforts on winning souls, embark on projects that will have direct bearing for the increase of the present members of the Anglican church in Nigeria from the present 20 million to 50 million out of the present 150 million of the Nigeria Population.

He also appealed to the mother dioceses of the newly created missionary dioceses not to abandon their spiritual babies but to lend helping hands in nursing them to maturity.

On the Convocation of Anglicans in the North America (CANA), Archbishop Akinola commended Bishop Martyn Minns for his doggedness in seeing that CANA continues to grow despite the enormous resources being committed by the America’s Episcopal Church (TEC) to crush CANA. He stressed that Church of Nigeria will gladly turn CANA over to the Communion once the condition that led to its creation have been reversed by TEC.

On Lambeth Conference, Akinola said Nigeria is not a problem of the Communion rather those who breaks the rules and the bonds of affection with impunity must repent and ensure that the broken communion be restored for the Church of Nigeria to be in the next Lambeth Conference.

Read it all and read this also.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Lambeth 2008

Bishop George Browning's Sermon at Diocesan Synod

With permission–KSH.

Synod Sermon
8 September 2007
St Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn, Australia

The Hymn to the Universe in Colossians, expressing the supremacy of Christ over all things, including the Church, must be one of the most confidently reassuring passages in the whole of scripture. I quote it often, not least to reinforce what I believe is fundamental, that is, environmental issues and ecological justice issues are core business to Christian people. Christ is not simply God’s word to fallen humanity; He is God’s word to the whole created order which groaneth in travail until now. These are not optional extras, this is not some trendy green thing, the sustainability and reconciliation of the whole created order is as core to us, as is our belief that Christ died for our salvation. For in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of the cross. If Colossians 1: 15 ”“ 20 does not stir your blood, I do not know what will.
But what of verses 21 ”“ 23, the verses that follow, the verses we read this evening? What does it mean to be estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds? What is the hope promised by the gospel which we have heard and from which we are not to shift?

Well, one of the great joys of Anglicanism is our lectionary. I am unapologetically disappointed to hear of parishes that do not use it. It is not simply that when we use it we are in unison with countless thousands of Christians who have reflected on the same passage, on the same day, which we are: nor even that it has saved us from constant recourse to the passages that suit us best, which it does: it invites us to read scripture against the backdrop of other scripture.
Now, the passage from Colossians chapter 1: 21 ”“ 23 has been read this evening against the backdrop of Luke 6: 1 ”“ 5; the first of two passages in Luke 6 in which Jesus directly challenges the prevailing teaching and practice of the Sabbath. You know that the sins of the religious were a favourite target of Jesus, in fact he used stronger language of them – “hypocrites”, than he did of the more colourful sins of the great unwashed. So are we being challenged this evening not to think of a “hostile mind and evil deeds” as referring to those things that the tax collectors and sinners do, but those things that the Pharisees do, the things, please do not hide under the pew, which religious people do. Are we prone to believe we are righteous and in the believing more likely to rest secure in our condemnation of those we consider to be more notoriously sinful? Are we, the people in Church, being called to consider our “hostile” minds, rather than preaching to those outside whom we think should change their hostile minds?

You are all familiar with Jesus’ challenges about the Sabbath. His fundamental problem with the teaching and behaviour of the ruling religious class was that they had turned a divine ordinance for the celebration of life, into an ordinance which essentially had become life denying. They had made the law a thing to be worshipped, rather than serving the principle that it was designed to celebrate. Celebrate is the right word. The Sabbath was never fundamentally about one day being holier than another, not even about religious observance per se; the Sabbath is no less than the celebration of creation itself, and a foretaste of its redemption. Wherever praise is offered, the Sabbath is celebrated; when the hungry are fed the Sabbath is celebrated; when the down trodden are set free the Sabbath is celebrated; when human work builds divine community the Sabbath is celebrated; when those who have been estranged are reconciled the Sabbath is celebrated; when a paddock is rested the Sabbath is celebrated; when debts are forgiven the Sabbath is celebrated; when ones preferred seat in high places is given to another, the Sabbath is celebrated; when the face of Christ is seen in a child on the street, or the woman selling herself that her children might be fed, the Sabbath is celebrated; when soiled and worn bodies are anointed with perfume, the Sabbath is celebrated. The Sabbath is not celebrated by simply creating space; it is celebrated by what fills the space. The Sabbath is about celebrating life. Hostile minds then are minds hostile to life, because life is of God and Sabbath celebrates God, by celebrating life.

What then is the “hope promised by the gospel which we have heard and from which we are not to shift”? Is it that Jesus has died for our salvation – well yes it is? Is it that he has taken away the sin of the world – well yes it is? I do not believe this hope can be expressed more clearly than by John. These (words) are written that you might believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and through believing you may have life in his name. Jn 20:31

Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God for God is love. God’s love was revealed to us in this way: God sent his only son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4 7 -10
If this is truly the hope promised by God, the hope from which we are not to shift, is it possible to lose the prize, or perhaps to lose the opportunity of conveying the prize to others, by holding on to a lesser truth as if it were the main game.
Those about whom Jesus was extremely critical had taken a passage or passages of scripture and turned them into an idol. They had made their interpretation of the law of the Sabbath the litmus test by which virtue and righteousness was to be judged, indeed that by which all human behaviour, however virtuous or evil, was to be judged.

Are there parallels today? Are there examples of religious people taking a passage or passages of scripture and turning them into a litmus test for all? Are there examples of people taking passages of scripture and saying of them to the wider religious community “we say to you that these particular passages are the tests we will set to show whether you hold to the hope promised in the gospel, which we have heard, and from which we are not to shift”. Well sadly – yes.
In our beloved Anglican Communion a litmus test has been set and whether any of us like it or not we are apparently to be judged by it. In less than 12 months from now the 2008 Lambeth conference will have come and gone. In coming months you are sadly going to have an increasing commentary in the press about those bishops who are going and those who are not; those who have been invited, and those who have not; those who will stay away if others attend, and those who will attend if others stay away.

I say to the Anglican Communion please stop it. I say to the Archbishop of Canterbury, please tell us to stop it. Archbishop Rowan, please do not allow yourself to refer to this matter as core, even if others do. Please do not take as seriously as you seem to the cries, on either side, of those who make this debate, the debate on homosexuality, the core business of the Anglican Communion: by so doing you are disenfranchising the rest of us, who with respect, are concerned about far more important issues. By making this the litmus test, will the Sabbath be celebrated, as Jesus intended ”“ I do not see how? By making this the litmus test will we address the more important issues of the presence of Jesus amongst the poor and disenfranchised, please tell me how? Will the voice, the prayer of Jesus, for justice and peace in the Jerusalem, in the Middle East where the call of the mosque prevails, be more clearly articulated? A vain hope. Will the healing of those dying from Malaria and HIV AIDS be more urgently addressed? Sadly no. Even at home, by pressing this debate will it enable the voice of the gospel to be heard more widely in Australian society, to be respected more intensely, to be understood more thoroughly – I think not. Then please stop it. This does not mean that I think it is unimportant, or that I am not committed to the Lambeth 98 resolution, or that I do not think people have the right to strongly held views, but will this debate open wider the gates that lead to everlasting life ”“ I am afraid not.

All legitimate Bishops in the Communion should attend the Lambeth Conference. We need to be challenged by one another and to try to understand each other. To be honest, the Bishop I will find it hardest to understand is the Bishop of Harare, Zimbabwe, the Bishop who applauds, supports and encourages the activity and behaviour of President Robert Mugabe who has wreaked so much pain and evil upon his own people. How this Bishop can possibly reconcile his pronouncements with the “hope promised by the gospel” is beyond my comprehension: well not quite, he is, apparently of the same tribal grouping as the President, he is of those who currently hold power. We are called to share the company of those who do not have power. So, even he, perhaps especially he, needs to be present.

We are so blessed to have heard the hope promised by the gospel, the promise of life in his name, we are so blessed to be personally redeemed by it, may we never be without the humility of spirit, the compassion of heart, the confidence of mind, and the strength of will to live it, and proclaim it to others.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces