Monday, March 14, 2005

Table Fellowship; the New Weapon

By now you have heard that when the Primates (Archbishops of the Anglican Communion) met in Ireland a few weeks ago, there was a controversy regarding sharing communion. It seems that the ultra-conservatives would not come to the Lord's table with heretics like Frank Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Thinking Anglicans points us to a recent report in the Telegraph; Clergymen refuse communion with bishop in row over gays;

In what could be the start of an escalating conflict, at least eight conservative clerics have told the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, that they will refuse to share Holy Communion with him. They are furious that the bishop and five of his colleagues sent a letter to a national newspaper earlier this week announcing their determined support for liberal Anglicans in North America...
First the bible is transformed into a weapon used to beat those with whom you disagree into submission. Now table fellowship is the new tool of destruction to be drawn from the arsenal. We live in bizarre times.

It's difficult to keep track of exactly who is still in communion with whom. Pretty soon, we'll have to answer a questionaire before we can approach the altar.

I'm not the only one confused by this latest tactic. Here are some of the thoughts of Stephen Gerth, rector of St. Mary the Virgin, NYC;

Let me see if I have this right. Rowan Williams has asked Frank Griswold not to come to dinner because if he shows up Peter Akinola and his friends won’t come. Rowan Williams is the archbishop of Canterbury. Frank Griswold is our presiding bishop. Peter Akinola is the archbishop of the Church of Nigeria. Akinola thinks Griswold does not belong at the archbishop’s table any more. I wonder why Williams is letting Akinola get away with this.

Akinola isn’t the only bishop who thinks his way. Griswold isn’t the only bishop in favor of an inclusive Church. The primates have also asked the Anglican Church of Canada not to send representatives to meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council for the next three years. We are told this will give us the opportunity to explain ourselves. I find myself thinking about the opportunity Jesus was given to explain himself. But Jesus wasn’t on trial. Pilate was. And I don’t think the Episcopal Church is on trial. The Archbishop of Canterbury is. He has to decide who is invited.

I’m stunned that the Archbishop of Canterbury would go along with uninviting people to the table. He has never found it necessary not to invite divorced and remarried bishops to Anglican gatherings. I find it amazing that he has allowed himself to be held hostage over this issue of the sexual orientation of an American bishop...

...I can’t help wondering whether Rowan Williams really wants to be held hostage by Peter Akinola and his friends over this issue. Does he really want the Anglican Communion to solve its problems by excommunication? Is Canterbury still in England or did it move?
It is worth noting that the Episcopal Church has not declared herself out of communion with anyone. I can't imagine a time when we would ever use the threat of excommunication as a weapon. If we did, I would strongly object. It's not our table, after all.

So Archbishop Akinola, although I know you will most likely decline the invitation, I want you to know that you will always be welcome to share the Holy Eucharist with me. Personally, I don't care for your style, your theology, or your politics, yet I must recognize you as a brother in Christ.

But, if you show up in rochet and chemire, I'm not sure I'll be able to honor the invitation. Sorry, but those frilly sleeves are just a bit too much.


No comments:

Post a Comment