I found the readings yesterday at Morning Prayer/Evening Prayer to be extra-ordinary. The value of the daily office is you encounter numerous psalms and three distinct readings from both testaments. Some days the Word of God is like a tsunami to me. I feel overwhelmed by the power and rushing force. My little brain is on overload. Yesterday was such a day. Each set of verses set my head to spinning. So I am going to continue digging around there. Yesterday we noted that while "sexual morality" is very important there are other pressing sins which receive little or no notice. Churches are inconsistent in exercising "integrity" in obedience the the Word.
Integrity is darn hard. 1 Corinthian 6:1ff for example should have felt like a bomb going off at the Daily Office celebrated by the Episcopal Church bishops gathered in Nashville. I believe that they seek to do the right thing. I trust they want to be faithful. I cannot think the words they heard made them comfortable.
In 1 Cor 6:1ff Paul condemns the practice of suing other Christians. He does not leave much room for doubt. For example: "I say this to your SHAME. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one brother and another, but a brother goes to court against a believer--and before unbelievers at that." The idea that we would waste millions of dollars on law suits makes me heart and soul sick. It upsets me much more than gay marriage. [If gay people who sincerely seek God are wrong about their sexual behavior that is their concern. Yesterday made clear that there are a number of us having to answer for all manner of sins of which we have not repented and continue to do. FACT: All have sinned and fall short. Everyone will face God carrying particular sins to the Judgment seat.] However, the evil and damage done when churches fight over property is more extensive and more horrible.
The Episcopal church could have been loving, tolerant and understanding in dealing with the conservatives. There could have been ways to divide resources so everyone. [Paul also says, "Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud--and brothers at that"] The millions of dollars being paid to lawyers (and the horrible press that shows us to be greedy and malicious toward one another) could have been used to fund a settlement which would have allowed us to feed the hungry, educate and employ the poor, provide ministry to the elderly and needy. It makes me so sad I could despair of God even being active in the church. It shakes the faith deeply.
My fear as a priest in this church is that I am answerable for such waste of resources and misappropriation of God's gifts for lawsuits. Now, I know that some would say, "But that is Paul speaking. We follow Jesus." Ironically Jesus addressed the situation as well in Matthew yesterday. (I said it was a tsunami)
Mt 5:38-48, "You have heard it said, "and eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist an evil doer...and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well....Give to everyone who begs...do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you....But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...."
I think God's Word cuts both ways. Those who have left are answerable as well. But I am not in their church. I have no voice among them. I am in this church, the Episcopal Church. I am responsible for stewardship of resources here. And I am sick to heart that we continue this scorched earth policy fighting in courts over property (which we cannot even use because the people are gone). WE have taken food out of children's mouths and thrown it away. WE have stolen funding for ministry to the elderly or support of missionaries bringing the name of Jesus to those in darkness. WE have chosen the way of hatred and force in the name of love and peace. We have not repented of it, either. God has spoken... How much longer will we insist on ignoring Him? and at what cost do we turn from the Lord we serve? Lord have mercy on me, and my church. Save us Lord we are perishing!