07 July 2015

Independence Day 2015

Sue-z and I have a dear friend who is dying. He is very calm about that fact, his life-bonded partner died a few months ago, and his cancer leaves no doubt that his time is come. We are sad to lose him, at the same time we are inspired by the calm confidence that he brings to his imminent departure.

This amazing week, he and I have talked about the changes in our world. Marriage equality has come, finally, to the entire country, the revulsion we have shared at the traitorous display of the Virginia battle flag, is rolling through the country, making us ever more one country.

For Episcopalians, the week also was when, finally after more than 40 years of effort, marriage equality came to the church. The last barriers to equality for lesbian/gay Christians have gone. As of the first Sunday in Advent, all of our marriage liturgies will be applied as gender neutral. That is two men, two women, and one of each will be precisely equal.

In one sense, equality comes too late for our friend. His love is dead. But as we talked about the changes, he shouted, Hallelujah! I joined him in the shout. He has lived to see this victory. And if he will not participate in sacramental marriage, he knows that 40 years of advocating, demonstrating, and praying have come to this moment. We can celebrate that achievement of those who put themselves and their careers on the line. We can remember joining to picket Archbishop Akinola, and we can see the gates of heaven opening and Louie and Julian waiting with Jesus, and his family.

Justice flows like water. Freedom comes with justice, and now, finally, it has come for a minority still widely oppressed, especially in Central Africa. "It is still a long hard and damn hard and bitter ride"1 for many there.

Archbishop Welby, ever the pro-bully figure, expressed his concern that the Gafecon schismatics might not be comfortable. Here in the diocese of Chicago, we have something called, "fierce conversation." We are not good at it yet, but we are working on it. One thing we have learned is that confronted by evil, one must name it. Conflict avoidance is evil. Sometimes, one must do the moral thing even if it upsets people. We might wish this simple idea were not so hard for primates to understand. General Convention did a lot of good, but continuing to invest in companies that facilitate the subjugation of Palestinians is simply wrong. Attempting to justify discrimination against LGBT Christians as a price for a false sense of unity is wrong. Justin Welby is wrong, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is wrong on divestment.

But this week, Lady Liberty's torch shines a bit more brightly. This week we are praying for his passing, in triumph. His faithfulness is secure, and the reconciliation of God's creation is a bit more visible. Receive him oh Lord who places his trust in you. Enter not into judgement with him, but regard him with mercy, a child of your adoption, a faithful lamb of your flock. Grant that the hosts of heaven protect and guide him; the choir of angels sing for him; and the holy martyrs greet him. Let your light perpetual shine on him, and may his soul, with all the faithful rest in peace.

1 From the wonderful poem, "Hey Nellie, Nellie" by Shell Silversteen

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