As the Anglican Consultativee Council meets in Jamaica and there is more talk of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the church acting with "gracious restraint" I wonder what that would like like in my ministry.
As I write this a couple (heterosexual, if it matters) is in my office taking an inventory as part of their pre-marital work. They're a nice couple--refugees from the Roman Catholic world--whose wedding I'm going to enjoy doing. Hopefully we'll learn a couple things about life on our journey together.
Down the hall the Audit Committee is meeting. They're laughing so it can't be all that bad. Downstairs the Wednesday Bible Study is happening and any minute the choir will start arriving for rehearsal. It is all so stunningly normal.
Except for me, I suppose, the abnormal piece to this puzzle. I think I know pretty much where I fit in to the scheme of things around here, but when someone in the upper echelons of the Communion speak I am not so sure. They aren't either, clearly. Many of them wish I would just go away, but that's not going to happen. Most seem to think that everything will be OK as long as I'm not a bishop. I'm personally just fine with not being a bishop, but I do chafe at the notion that my priesthood is somehow second-class. This chafing is, I suppose, "gracious restraint" in action, although there's nothing gracious about it. I'm being told I must chose it. It's a eupehism I am coming to detest, meant more to make those who are doing the asking feel better about what they are asking for.
I cannot control who gets elected bishops. I can control who (and what) gets liturgically blessed in my parish. I have no intention of acting with restraint in that regard. Is this arrogance? I have no doubt it is in the eyes of some. But my pastoral duty trumps their opinion, to be perfectly honest.
Gracious restraint in the blessing of the world will lead to the death of the church, of that I have no doubt. This young couple needed me not to be restrained with them. I'm happy to not be so, and I think Jesus is too.
Speaking of him, what did "gracious restraint" mean in his ministry? Absolutely nothing, as near as I can tell. Thank God, or there wouldn't be any sort of thing called the church.