My dear readers are well familiar with my roles in the Episcopal/Anglican Church wars. Lay Deputy to General Convention, Standing Committee, etc.
What is really strange is that in the last four years five different religious institutions (I’m being purposefully ambiguous here), four of which would definitely be classified as in church wars. These have nothing to do with the Episcopal Church.
It occurs to me that the non-Episcopalians/Anglicans pay me a lot better.
But, that is one of those passing, joking thoughts.
The real spiritual question to ask here is why has God asked me to stand in this breach.
I spent my childhood, teenage, college, and law school years knowing nothing about the church wars. Sure, they happened all around me during those years. I somehow managed to remain ignorant of the wars, probably because no one asked me or told me about them. I wasn’t entitled to vote or litigate in them. I guess it just didn’t matter.
Then, there were what I would call the Salad days (to quote Raising Arizona) of my Christian journey. After law school and leading up to GC2003; back when I thought as I went through my own spiritual growth as an adult, I thought that if all who claimed the name of Christian just would go through a Cursillo weekend and serve on one Kairos team, all would be well in Christendom. My own version of St. Augustine’s City of God. This could change the whole world. All would be reconciled to God and to each other. A whole gathering of forgiven sinners throughout the world who have experienced the Grace of God and, some 2000 years after our Lord Jesus walked the earth and died for us, finally in one voice acknowledged Him as Lord and Savior. All else, and it was good, followed.
While I still hold to this ideal, so much of what I have seen in the last four years has been completely contradictory to the possibility that my ideal Kingdom of God on earth would come to being. Which makes me ask God a question, this night: Why I am I called to stand in the breach of your broken Body here on earth? Why must I witness the non-fulfillment of your High Priestly Prayer, Lord, Jesus, in such stark raving clarity. What pieces am I supposed to pick up?
In any event, I was drawn to Isaiah 26 tonight, verses 1-19, so I thought I would share it:
A Song of Praise
1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
God makes salvation
its walls and ramparts.
2 Open the gates
that the righteous nation may enter,
the nation that keeps faith.
3 You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
5 He humbles those who dwell on high,
he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
and casts it down to the dust.
6 Feet trample it down—
the feet of the oppressed,
the footsteps of the poor.
7 The path of the righteous is level;
O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.
8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, [a]
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
9 My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
the people of the world learn righteousness.
10 Though grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and regard not the majesty of the LORD.
11 O LORD, your hand is lifted high,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.
12 LORD, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have done for us.
13 O LORD, our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us,
but your name alone do we honor.
14 They are now dead, they live no more;
those departed spirits do not rise.
You punished them and brought them to ruin;
you wiped out all memory of them.
15 You have enlarged the nation, O LORD;
you have enlarged the nation.
You have gained glory for yourself;
you have extended all the borders of the land.
16 LORD, they came to you in their distress;
when you disciplined them,
they could barely whisper a prayer. [b]
17 As a woman with child and about to give birth
writhes and cries out in her pain,
so were we in your presence, O LORD.
18 We were with child, we writhed in pain,
but we gave birth to wind.
We have not brought salvation to the earth;
we have not given birth to people of the world.
19 But your dead will live;
their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead.
20 Go, my people, enter your rooms
and shut the doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until his wrath has passed by.