By Ian Dingwall - Retired Archdeacon, now deceased, St. Christopher's, Burlington
Published: January 2008
Related Topics: Current Issues
I don't suppose anyone is happy with the current situation in our beloved Anglican Communion. And the word out of the Anglican Network Conference held recently in Burlington gives fuel to that feeling of dismay. It sounds likely that soon a group of congregations will set out on their own, separate from our Anglican Church of Canada.
Indeed, it's not a happy time, although we have been anticipating such a separation.
And I would guess many are feeling relieved that decisions are being made and resolution near, in spite of the fact that this resolve will see a breakaway, minority group from our Canadian Anglican Community.
At another recent gathering, the Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in San Francisco (Allen Jones) suggested that we ought to recognize that upheaval in human experience is more often a reality of life than is tranquility. In the midst of our present state of affairs that insight has given me a sense of security and hope.
Consider the truth of Jones' statement and think of the 2000 years of Christian history as well as the entire history of our universe.
Each century of our Common Era is marked by upheaval in form or other and, without exaggeration, the word Chaos could also be used in a descriptive way. Sometimes conflict situations are marked by words and threats etc. and at other times words have turned into arms and armies causing violence, pain and death for millions of human beings.
Reflect carefully on two of the foundational truths of Christian Faith--Creation and Incarnation.
In the book of Genesis we learn that Creation (our Cosmos, our earth Planet and all Humanity) was born out of chaos and darkness.
The Story of the New Testament declares that God entered our human experience through the One, Jesus of Nazareth, and that story points to similar upheaval as the earth's foundations are shaken by God. Jesus' words and actions were disturbing to many and his Ministry was marked by considerable disagreement which ended in violence.
Why then in our own day are we so surprised when turmoil erupts in our world or in the church? We say that Creation came out of Chaos and we believe Creation is never static but an ongoing reality. So why not view the present "separation" of sisters and brothers as an inevitable, if sorrowful, outcome that we should neither emote or despair about.
The "breach" in our community is not God-given in my view but a reality which we ought to accept and then move on. I know the minority dissent of the Anglican Network Association claims the rest of us are in Schism and the rest of us might reply in kind, saying, "Oh no, THEY are the Schismatics." Neither position in my opinion is helpful.
Why don't we just relax? To relax, you will know, means to "let go". By relaxing we declare that we are not in ultimate control of life - none of us is! Only God is God so why not decide to do our very best and get on with our lives and the life of our Church?
Divorce is seldom a happy event--there are never "winners", only "losers" and all participants feel the hurt. But we know too that divorce is caused by human frailty which we need to accept, however sadly or reluctantly we feel. And there is no reason to throw around words of condemnation and guilt which will do nothing creative and simply cause further hurt.
For myself, I say to all those who are separating themselves from our Community of Faith, I am sorry that our disagreements have ended this way, but go in Peace and God bless you always.
To the rest of us – bishops, clergy, dioceses and congregations--accept what is and together let us continue our common journey with God wherever S(He) leads.