Now that summer is here and I can sit on my porch or in my living room with the door open and listen to the children play, I hear the young voices of the nearly 25 children of our neighborhood playing ball. I hear voices saying “thank you” and “please” from them just as much as I hear “gimmie that” and it makes me wonder at my age group’s evaluation of them.
I am getting to the age when I am supposed to find fault with the young. I am supposed to get grumpy and say “the world is going to hell in a hand basket.” And I am not so sure. I have to admit some of the things that I see on TV and certainly the music I don’t understand and feel uncomfortable with it, but I find the kids I meet in church are basically like I was when I was their age---ungainly, tongue-tied (believe it or not!) and so awkward that I would not go back to that age even if I had a chance. They have certainly the sense of fair play that I had, with a wonder that life shouldn’t be fairer.
I have just finished watching the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori, on a stream from PBS. If you haven’t seen it (http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/06082007/watch2.html ), it is well worth seeing. I am more and more seeing the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in her election. Her thorough-going sense of science that is at peace with her faith is wonderful for the Church at this time. It flies in the face of the anti-intellectualism that is assaulting Christianity from all sides. And her seeming unflappability in the face of questions is wonderful to behold. Her absolute confidence seems almost child-like, youthful and deeply hopeful. This is what we need if we are to survive as a Church.
She does not believe that the Episcopal Church will split over this entire hullabaloo over human sexuality. And even with her scientific background she has a full sense of the weight of history and context in which we live out our Christian faith. She gives me hope that the Church can and will rise to her expectations.
Now that is naïve, I know. However, sometimes I need to touch my youth too in order to welcome the new, the tough newness, which is abroad in the Church.
Will she be able to direct the Church into a place where those of faith can worship in a manner that is consistent with a faith under girded by a relationship with an all loving God? Will the Church be able to address the changes that are needed to survive this division between those who would cast us into a faith that does not inquire or does not challenge? With the leadership of ++KJS I see her ushering in a continued time of welcome and a continued time of challenge. Will some have to leave? Of course! Will others come? Of course! Thus it has ever been.
I consider ++KJS young. She has not been ordained as long as I or has the wealth of experience that I have. But she has qualities that I admire that will take the experiences she has as bishop and develop a theology of ministry for herself and for all of us in the Church. I believe her when she says that her science informs her faith and I would also guess that her faith informs her science. She stands comfortably in those two streams in a way that gives me the courage to stand in the various streams of my life and give them meaning. What more can I ask of a Presiding Bishop? What more can I ask of any other human being?
She asks for a season of discernment regarding the consecration of gay bishop. It is not so much discernment about LGBT issues—that is not what is in her mind because her understanding of Scripture and science does not judge LGBT Christians. But she calls a moratorium for the sake of community. I am not sure I agree with her, but I will follow her. I am not sure she is right, but ‘for a season’ I will suspend judgment for the sake of community.
Now if she can address the need in the Church to address the growth of over reaching power of bishops for the health of the Church…..well, then she will have attained sainthood in my estimation.