The Tengatenga-ing of Josiah Idowu-Fearon

ImageGenIn the last number of years, I’ve spent a significant amount of time traveling in the world church meeting, talking, and praying with Anglicans from a wide variety of backgrounds. Part of the impetus for this travel was to help other Anglicans understand how the American Episcopal church in which I was raised had reached decisions that seemed to them nonsensical, controversial, and unBiblical.

If there was one theme I kept returning to in so many of my conversations it was this: there is more to one’s Christian faith than one’s position on sex and sexuality. It may sound surprising that this has to be said. But for some African Anglicans I encountered, the only things they knew about the American Episcopal church was that it had a bishop (later two) who was openly gay and was making decisions that would allow weddings between two people of the same sex to take place in church. This information—and only this information—had been used by more than a few African Anglican leaders to loudly condemn the American church.

I understood that part of my role in these conversations was to show that, in fact, there was a lot more going on in the Episcopal Church than these decisions about sexuality (important as they may be) and that these decisions about sexuality came from a full and whole understanding of the Christian Gospel. My conversation partners didn’t always agree with what I said but I was usually pretty confident that we parted ways agreeing that there was more to the Christian faith than one’s beliefs on sexuality.

But now I wonder if I made a mistake.

It has been striking how in recent years there is an increasing willingness among all parties in the church to evaluate other Christians entirely on their views about a handful of topics related to sexuality. Two years ago, the fine and able Malawian bishop, James Tengatenga, was appointed to a position at Dartmouth University. Within days, attention was drawn to comments he had made regarding sexuality, offense was taken, and demands were immediately made that the appointment be rescinded. As later conversation would reveal, the comments were made in a particular context. Divorced from that context, they made little sense. But it was too late. Tengatenga lost the position. The only qualification that mattered was his views on sexuality. When they—apparently—failed to measure up, his history of accomplishments became meaningless.

This week, it happened again. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, bishop of Kaduna in Nigeria, was appointed Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. I have never met Bishop Josiah but when I traveled in Nigeria a few years back, I heard much of him. I heard that he is a man of deep accomplishment who has endured significant setbacks and opprobrium within his church because he has consistently argued against divisive steps taken by leaders of the Nigerian church. I also knew his diocese has a long-standing relationship with a congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Almost immediately, however, the Tengatenga-ing of Bishop Josiah got underway. Some comments of Idowu-Fearon’s about sexuality were found on a Nigerian news site. All of a sudden, the only thing that mattered about Idowu-Fearon was what he had said on one occasion. The loudest voices making these arguments appear to be those who had never met Bishop Josiah. Those who had met him were making significantly more nuanced and positive comments but were quickly drowned out.

There seemed to be little effort to understand the context of the remarks, a lesson I had hoped we had learned in the wake of Bishop Tengatenga’s situation. (The context of talk about sexuality in Nigeria is complex and maybe I’ll write a separate post about that when we’re not in the middle of the holiest days of the Christian year.) Nor was there any effort to think about how else Bishop Josiah has walked the Christian way in his life and how that might influence his performance as Secretary General.

Not only is it wrong to criminalize homosexuality (though we should understand the impetus for some of this), the church should be a place that welcomes all people regardless of sexual orientation into the transforming love of God. These are precisely the arguments I have made in these many conversations with Anglicans around the world.

Yet I also think that the depth of God’s love for the world cannot be summarized simply by talking about sex all day long. It is right that we should inquire about Bishop Josiah’s position on contentious issues before the Communion. (A similar inquiry took place when the previous Secretary General was appointed ten years ago, leading to upset among some Nigerian and other African Anglicans. But that was before Twitter was invented.) But it is also right that being in the church means we are called to encounter the whole person whom God has created and ask how we are to relate to them. In the end, we may conclude that the person is not fit for the role in question. But we would at least have a full sense of someone.

I’ve written in the past that the mission of the church can be understood, in part, to be helping the world deal with complexity. But in order to do that, we need to react to situations less along tribal lines and more along the lines of the baptismal relationships which undergird our life together. If we’re serious about reconciliation, it would be a useful place to begin.

UPDATE: Over the weekend, there was some more information released. Bishop Idowu-Fearon released a statement clarifying his views and James Tengatenga, in his capacity as chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, released a statement explaining some of the background to the appointment.

A rare event in the life of the church

The Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania on Saturday elected Canon Audrey Scanlan their next diocesan bishop. Well done them!

Her election made me start looking into statistics about episcopal elections. Here’s what I found.

  • Canon Scanlan is the first woman elected a diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church since 2011.
  • In those four years, there have been 17 other elections for diocesan bishop, which have all elected a man. (This count may be slightly off, as the list I’m using is the super-helpful Wikipedia page “Succession of American Episcopal Bishops,” which lists by consecration date, not date of election.)
  • In that time, there have been women elected as bishops, but they are suffragen bishops.
  • By my count, Canon Scanlan will be the fourth female diocesan bishop currently serving in one of the church’s 100+ dioceses. (I count El Camino Real, Indianapolis, and Washington as dioceses with elected women diocesans.)
  • To my knowledge, there is no great difference in the number of men and women being ordained or in the number of male and female priests that would explain such a huge discrepancy in the House of Bishops.

Diocesan bishops are the one who chair important committees, exercise consent over the election of new bishops, and generally set a tone for the way the church goes. I hope it is painfully obvious how important it is that there be a full complement of women in their ranks.

Canon Scanlan is highly regarded and, by all accounts, the diocese made an excellent choice. But, guys, we’ve got a long way to go.

One brief moment: Bishops Lane and North and Christian unity

At the ecumenical divinity school I attended, we celebrated the Eucharist (Mass, Lord’s Supper, Communion) every Friday. What I always remember about those services was the giant pile of backpacks that would pile up outside the door of the chapel. We left our things at the door before the service.

For me (and others), the pile of baggage represented something profound about what was happening in the service. There were students (and faculty) who regularly attended those services who had conflicting, opposing, and sometimes contradictory ideas about what was happening in the Eucharist (Mass, Lord’s Supper, Communion). On more than one occasion, I received the body and blood of Christ from someone not ordained in the apostolic succession my Anglican tradition so values. But, like the baggage we set aside at the door, we temporarily put aside these view points for the sake of something greater—the unity of followers of Christ gathered around his altar (table).

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I thought of those services yesterday as I saw a picture circulating the Internet following the consecration of Philip North in York Minster. The picture shows Bishop North embracing Bishop Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first female bishop. Two bishops embracing—unremarkable.

And yet, to those who know the context, it is something more. Bishop Lane was consecrated a week ago by over a hundred bishops from around the world. Bishop North was consecrated by three bishops (even though many others were present), none of whom has ever laid hands on a women to ordain her. He is a conservative Anglo-Catholic who does not believe in the ordination of women and believes that male bishops who do ordain women are “tainted”.

Bishop North should have been consecrated by all bishops present. The theology of “taint” that underlies the desire to be women-free is a modern outworking of the ancient Donatist heresy, as others have ably argued.

And yet—somehow what is of fundamental importance is the relationship in Christ shared between these two bishops, representing different parts of the church. (Bishop Lane representing by far the larger part, as her consecration testified.) And that is what this picture represents.

The book of Revelation gives a picture of what it will be like when Christ comes again:

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. (7.9)

It is an astonishing vision: all God’s children united in prayer and praise. As much as I find the theology of taint held by Bishop North to be deeply erroneous, he—and those who hold his views—are equally members of Christ’s one body with me, Bishop Lane, and so many others. One day—whether we like it or not—we’ll all be united before God.

A hug does not produce theological agreement, just as a pile of backpacks does not produce Christian unity. But moments like these are, for me, snapshots of what we as Christians are all aiming for together. They give us an image of what we hope will one day be. For an instant—and only for that—they lift us beyond the brutal, trench-warfare politics of day-to-day church life and point us to something greather

I am not minimizing the serious and profound differences here. But on this day, I am grateful that Bishops Lane and North are acting like this now to give us a view of what things will be like then.

Books make great gifts!

It’s Christmas-shopping season and to help out The Living Church magazine asked 44 of its friends to name a book they would recommend to their friends.

My own Backpacking through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity made the list.

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It’s an excellent time to note that Backpacking is available at a sub-Amazon sale price on Cokesbury.com.

Another great gift idea for your friends: a subscription to The Living Church itself.

Books make great gifts!

96 days of travel, 14 trips, and 11 days in airplanes

The Archbishop of Canterbury today addressed General Synod, reporting on his travels in the last 18 months to visit with every primate (senior bishop) of the Anglican Communion.

It is a gooarticle-2230787-15EFE482000005DC-637_306x423d address and he highlights several central issues to the future of the Communion: the opportunity and threat of instantaneous communication, the suffering of the church, the important day-to-day work of the church, and, simply, that Anglican churches around the world are flourishing. It is impossible to contest any of these points.

Readers of my book Backpacking through the Anglican Communion will not be surprised that I particularly liked this section:

The future of the Communion requires sacrifice.  The biggest sacrifice is that we cannot only work with those we like, and hang out with those whose views are also ours.  Groups of like-minded individuals meeting to support and encourage each other may be necessary, indeed often are very necessary, but they are never sufficient.  Sufficiency is in loving those with whom we disagree.  What may be necessary in the way of party politics, is not sufficient in what might be called the polity of the Church.

Talking with people we disagree is an important spiritual discipline—Jesus did it all the time—and like all such disciplines it self-evidently involves sacrifice.

But there were two areas of the address where I wanted to hear more.

The first is the archbishop’s continued emphasis on episcopal—and particularly archiepiscopal—leadership. This is not surprising, given that he himself is an archbishop, that he is reporting on visits with other archbishops, and that the structures of governance in the Anglican Communion, such as they are, are dominated by bishops.

Given the last decade(s) of life in the Anglican Communion, might it not be time to ask how we might credibly lift up the voices of other Anglicans in conversations about our future together? The archbishop makes no mention of the flourishing work of many of the Anglican Communion’s networks or of the serious work done in diocese-to-diocese relationships and the Continuing Indaba program. Nor does he mention a recent call by some bishops and primates for another Anglican Congress, an event expressly designed to move beyond simply hearing bishops’ voices. It is precisely in these areas that we see the kind of flourishing and sacrifice that the archbishop rightly highlights.

Again, none of this is a surprise, given his position and his interlocutors. But surely there is a more exciting way to frame a future agenda than in terms of a potential Primates’ Meeting and a Lambeth Conference, two meetings which will be dominated by men and (of course) bishops.

The second concern is related to the first. In addition to highlighting the flourishing of the church, he repeatedly discusses the divisions in the church. I want to be very clear that I understand that there are divisions within the church, not only over sexuality but (as the archbishop rightly notes) over a host of other issues as well. I have experienced these divisions in many, personal ways, as have many Anglicans around the world.

But I also think we need to be clear that there is a great spirit in the Communion of relatedness and connection in spite of (and often because of) these apparent divisions. This is not often a message we hear from our purple-clad leadership but it is my experience—and I know that I am also not alone in this—that when we move past outspoken bishops, we find not agreement on divisive issues but a real effort at reconciliation. Part of the reason I wrote Backpacking was to highlight these very voices, those that don’t agree with me on every last issue but with whom I nonetheless found deep relationship based on our common baptism and commitment to the good news of Jesus Christ.

I think Justin Welby has lots of good things to say about the Anglican Communion. I think he places great value on this aspect of his role. But his position—as all positions do—places confines and constraints on him. I hope he can continue to see beyond them and lead us all into seeing beyond our own shortcomings.

Lambeth Conference? How about a Lambeth Congress instead?

Six primates of the Anglican Communion and a handful of other bishops recently met in New York City for several days and, at the end of their gathering, expressed their “fervent and urgent hope that another Anglican Congress might be held in the next two years.” (The full statement is here.)XIII-1_1

To which I say: hooray! I have been banging on for the last several years about the significance of the 1963 Anglican Congress and how we ignore it at our peril. That meeting, which drew together lay, clerical, and episcopal representatives from across the Anglican Communion produced a document known as Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, which, I have argued, is an important—but neglected—resource for Anglicans of our time. (These are arguments I’ve made at length in the Anglican Theological Review, the Church Times, and The Living Church.)

Actually, I have more than just “hooray” to say.

First, it’s worth noting that what these bishops are suggesting has been suggested before. In the run-up to the 2008 Lambeth Conference (of bishops), there was an effort to hold a parallel Anglican Congress in Cape Town. But, when it became apparent there wasn’t enough money to fund two major conferences, the Congress was abandoned and Lambeth went forward. (A telling sign, not incidentally, of whose voices are most valued in the Communion.)

Second, this suggestion comes at the same time as some (very spurious) speculation about the next Lambeth Conference. To call for an Anglican Congress in this context helpfully shifts the focus away from episcopal naval-gazing (which Anglicans are so good at) and broadens the conversation to include many more voices.

Third, as the conversation about the next Lambeth indicates, there’s some rather great dissatisfaction with the four “Instruments of Communion” in the Anglican Communion. The Primates have not gathered in over three years. The next Lambeth is open to question. The Anglican Consultative Council meets to apparently little notice. And it is now seriously suggested that one need not be in communion with the archbishop of Canterbury to be Anglican. The call for a Congress essentially recognizes this dissatisfaction and proposes a new way forward. Rather than concentrating our energy, time, and money on holding these meetings to apparently little end, perhaps there’s an alternative.

Fourth, the bishops say a Congress should be held in the next two years. That’s an awfully ambitious timeline. But it does seem that there is a vacant window in 2018 (the putative date of a next Lambeth Conference) that could be usefully taken advantage of.

So let’s put some flesh on the proposal. Instead of a Lambeth Conference, let’s have a Lambeth Congress, and instead of having it in London or Canterbury, let’s have it in Accra, Cape Town, or Dar es Salaam.

Last year, on the 50th anniversary of the Toronto Congress, I wrote this reflection:

In its fractures in the early 21st century, the Anglican Communion stands as a mirror-image of the divisions that stalk a world ever more divided by class, race, region, background, and so much else. “Frontiers” abound, in parishes, dioceses, and the worldwide Church. The body of Christ seems not a reality, but an ideal hardly to be grasped.

Fifty years on from MRI, it is worth returning to the manifesto and the period that produced it. In its emphasis on the patient work of building genuine relationships across lines of difference, the importance of genuinely coming to know one another in the context in which each lives, and above all in its recognition that God is always calling us to something greater than ourselves, MRI has much to teach us.

It is risky to reach out to those who are different from us, and daring to ask what we might learn from someone from a different background. But it is precisely these things that are at the heart of what it means to be God’s people in the world – a fact that is no less true today than it was in August 1963.

UPDATE: I just saw this comment posted on the Episcopal News Service version of this story. It says much about Toronto’s important—but forgotten—legacy.

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Where angels fear to tread: GTS and leadership in the church

Raphaels-angels-cherubsThe Daily Episcopalian blog of Episcopal Cafe today published an article of mine about the ongoing turmoil at The General Theological Seminary in New York City:

So what fault-line does the General conflict reveal in the church? It seems to be part of a broader concern—anxiety even—about how Christians wield and exercise power, authority, and leadership in this day and age….

We can pray that the disaster at General may one day be a footnote in a fine institution’s history. In the meantime, I hope that it may be an opportunity at last for fruitful and honest conversations about how as Christians we confront the anxieties about power, authority, and leadership that exist in our church and in society at large.

I should have titled it “Where angels fear to tread,” such was my trepidation about writing about such an explosive issue. But the history of our church always has lessons for us and I am determined to continue to draw them out.

Read the whole thing here.

 

Railway Man reconciliation

Sometimes—amid posts on this blog about various aspects of church life—you could be forgiven for forgetting that Christians have an actual gospel—good news—to share with the world.

I love finding this gospel message outside the walls of the church, off the pages of the Bible, and presented by people who aren’t professional religious specialists. The recent movie The Railway Man is one example. (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT.)

the-railway-manColin Firth plays a veteran of World War II, who was tortured by the Japanese and forced to build a railway through impossible conditions. He can barely cope with his memories more than four decades after the end of the war. Nicole Kidman is his wife, steadfast in her love for him and longing to see him move past the pain. Firth finds out that one of his torturers, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, is still alive and makes a living offering tours of what was once his prison camp.

This movie is soaked in themes of grace, judgment, redemption, forgiveness, and above all else, reconciliation. There are three moments in particular that vividly brought the gospel message alive for me. I’m not technically capable of putting them online, so my own description will have to suffice.

At one point, Firth ends up on a beach on the English seashore, alone in his pain and hurt, no doubt hoping the world will just stay away. But Kidman comes running after him, begging him, imploring him to share his pain with her, to receive her love, to be open to the idea that the world can do something besides harm us. One of my favourite themes in the Bible is of a God who pursues us in love, coming after us even when we are far away. Jesus tells us about that when the father of the prodigal son abandons all dignity appropriate to his position in life and goes running out to his son while the son “was still far off.” (Luke 15.20). It is a message that is echoed in Ephesians, which teaches how Jesus came to us “who once were far off” but have now “been brought near.” (2.13) And it is picked up in one of the post-communion prayers in Common Worship: “we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far off…” Kidman embodies the pursuing love of God. And it is that love that begins to show Firth new possibilities.

It is Firth’s old war-time friend, Stellan Skarsgård, who finds out that Sanada is still alive. He shares this news with Kidman and then gives her a knife. Sanada, Skarsgård says, can at last “be brought to justice.” The knife, of course, makes clear that this is not the justice of a courtroom. Firth is to take matters into his own hands and at last give to Sanada what is his due.

THE-RAILWAY-MAN-Image-07Firth carries the knife with him to Malaysia and at times it seems as if he is going to use it in the way that Skarsgaard intends. Instead, however, in a deeply symbolic move, he uses it to cut Sanada free from the cage in which Firth was once imprisoned and in which Firth has temporarily imprisoned Sanada. This is grace, not justice. Sanada, by the standards of the world, does not deserve to be set free. But he is because Firth comes to understand that justice will serve no one. Christians do not “deserve” the love of God, but God sends that love in the form of Jesus regardless. God uses a weapon—the cross—to set us free. God’s love is not justand we thank God for that.

The final scene of the movie is a moment of reconciliation. That r-word is thrown around a lot in the church. Good—it is the concept that is central to the gospel. But sometimes it’s hard to know precisely what is meant by it. This final scene give us some idea. Under the loving gaze of Kidman, Sanada and Firth meet, weep, and embrace at the site of the particularly gruelling pass the Japanese had forced the prisoners to build.

railwayWhat does this teach about reconciliation? First, reconciliation happens within the love of God. It is God’s love that is constantly impelling us towards one another in that same spirit of love. Second, reconciliation is about meeting together. Sanada and Firth actually had to come to the same place. Third, reconciliation is about honestly acknowledging pain, both in oneself and in the other. Earlier, one moment of breakthrough for Firth had been when he realizes that Sanada is broken and hurt by the war as well. Fourth, reconciliation honestly reckons with the past. Sanada and Firth meet at the very site—the train pass—that had caused them each, in different ways, such pain and trauma. Reconciliation doesn’t happen by disregarding the past but by coming to see it in a new way—transformed by the love of God.

If you ask me why I’m a Christian, the answer is provided by this movie: the pursuing grace of God that is constantly moving us towards reconciliation. This is truly good news.

Justice and grace in the vineyard

When I was growing up, I would often amuse myself during church with a series of illustrated children’s books that told Bible stories. I have a very distinct memory of the book that told the story of the labourers in the vineyard (Matthew 20.1-16). There were pictures of the vineyard-owner going into town in the morning to hire workers to help with the harvest. Then he went back later and hired more, and then still more, and even more. Finally, at the end of the day, he hauled out his big money trunk and started handing out coins to each worker—the same amount to each worker!

I have such a vivid memory of this book for one reason:

I hated it.

the-parable-of-the-workers-in-the-vineyard“Listen, Jesus,” I wanted to say, “you might have some good things to say elsewhere in these stories, but I think someone has given you a pretty poor steer here. If people work different amounts of time during the day, they should be paid differently. The people who showed up in the morning need to get more than those who showed up late in the day. It’s only just.”

As my seven-year-old response shows, considerations of justice are deeply rooted in our western society. There’s good reason for this. At least since the time of Plato and Aristotle, people have debating what justice means and how to make it central to the functioning of a society. It is a central concept in the Judeo-Christian tradition as well. Over time, we imbibe a clear understanding of what justice is. It is just to give to each what it is his or her due. That’s what’s fair. That’s what’s right. That’s what’s just.

But what this parable reminds us is that the love of God is almost the opposite of justice. God’s love for us is completely undeserved. We call it grace. There is nothing we can do that would make it fair or right for God to shower that love on us—but God does so nonetheless. Christians are people who called to share that same unjust love with others, through mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

It took me a very long time to come to peace with this parable. Until one day, as these things go, I realized all of a sudden my mistake: I was identifying with the wrong people in the story. Ever since my first encounter with the parable as a child on a pew, I had always imagined the story from the perspective of the early risers, the people who had been working all day only to be paid the same amount as the people who arrived at the end. My sense of justice was offended because I was feeling short-changed.

What I realized is that, in fact, when it comes to responding to God’s love, I am one of the latecomers, the people who barely work and still get the full day’s wage. And what a joy that is, to arrive late and receive the unearned grace of God. It’s also a good definition of the church: not a bunch of perfect, hard-working early risers but the collection of latecomers who keep a look out for other latecomers to welcome them in.

There’s one final piece of this parable that I only noticed this week. I had always thought—probably because this is what that children’s book said—that the vineyard owner goes looking for more workers because he needs more help. In fact, all the story says is that he went into town and happened to find people without work. Even more unjust! He was just passing out money to people whose labour he didn’t even need!

But it is yet one more indication of the nature of the grace of God. Not only is it unearned, God’s love is a love that comes seeking after us to draw us in. God pursues us in love for no other reason than that God loves us.

As I’ve written before on this blog, God’s love is not just—and we thank God for that.

Mission = expanding the Eucharist

Scott Gunn has resurrected his blog and written a cogent explanation of why the passing of the peace during the Eucharist is not best served by turning it into a hugging-and-chatting marathon.the peace

I’ve been a part of churches like that and it’s been fine. But he’s also right that the purpose of the peace is not to ask our friend how the weekend has been but to embody the reconciliation with one another that is ours in Christ. As he notes, it is Christ’s command in the Sermon on the Mount to “be reconciled” before bringing our gifts to the altar that provides the grounding for the act. Moreover, in the earliest recorded teaching on the Eucharist (I Corinthians 11) St. Paul lambasts the Corinthians for the divisions in their community when they celebrate the Eucharist—the rich eat well together and the poor stay separate and eat, well, not a lot presumably (v. 21). Paul says this amounts to showing “contempt for the church of God.” (v. 22) It’s no mistake that in the following chapter Paul offers his lengthy teaching on the body of Christ, a reminder of how we are all in this together. So if we’re not reconciled with one another before receiving the Eucharist, we’re kind of missing the point.

This raises a particular question, one that a commenter asks of Gunn in his post:

I am not aware of reconciling being possible at that time. If I need to reconcile it would require more than an smile and a handshake.

How are we supposed to resolve the pressing divisions in our community and in the world with a handshake, a hug, or—if we’re being properly Biblical—a kiss?

The answer? We’re not.

The passing of the peace is simultaneously both a handshake that reminds us of our need for reconciliation with our neighbour and an embodiment of the work of reconciliation that has already been wrought on the cross. The bread and wine that we use at the Eucharist is both “just” bread and wine and at the same time the mystical body and blood of Christ. When we enact the liturgy, we are both doing normal, everyday acts—reading, speaking, handshaking, giving, receiving, eating—and participating in the work of salvation and redemption—hearing the intertwining of our life with the Biblical narrative, embodying reconciliation, returning to God what has been given to us, receiving the body and blood of Christ.

The liturgy, therefore, prompts us to ask questions that help us gauge the rest of our lives. The passing of the peace, I find, raises some of the following questions for me:

  • With whom in this congregation am I trying to avoid passing the peace? With whom do I genuinely need to seek reconciliation?
  • Does it feel particularly false with anyone when I say, “Peace be with you”?
  • Most importantly, who is not in this congregation? With whom am I missing opportunities for reconciliation because of their absence from this Eucharistic community? Whom should I be looking to invite into this community?

And that leads to a reminder that our liturgy is not just something we do to feel good about ourselves. It is not something we have to get through before we can get on to the important stuff. Our liturgy is mission(al). It is the enactment of our faith.

Indeed, my favourite definition of mission is simply this: expanding the Eucharistic community. When we draw more people into this community of people who are in right relationship with God (confession/absolution), with another another (passing the peace), and gathered around the crucified and risen Christ on the altar, then we are truly sharing the love of God in Christ with the world.