Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Very Latest From Bishop Mary At Lambeth

“There is nothing strange here but the Grace of God”

This was one of those fine phrases preachers receive when in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and who are wise enough to pause from their outline and take note of some new thing that has suddenly appeared in the midst of holy conversation. Mark MacDonald, a bishop of TEC and of The Church of Canada (actually the first national indigenous bishop in the Anglican Communion) and a very fine preacher, offered the sermon at our worship yesterday and took a little jaunt off his topic to have a laugh at how people sniffed at the strange, what I assume to have been traditional Ijibwe “incense” burning in pots near the altar. He said, “they are thinking this is strange, this smell, ‘what is that?’, as they sniff and speculate ….…but there is nothing strange here, but the Grace of God.” At first I thought, “It is too bad that Grace is so unknown that it is strange…..” Perhaps a symptomatic thought of keeping a grueling schedule with 660 bishops for nearly three weeks! Indeed, Grace is strange and foreign, relative to our legalistic, sinful and suffering world, but it is also strange in that it is revealed in artful, sudden, unpredictable, deep ways that surprise and delight our imagination. We can only be rendered silent in those moments, shake our head and smile at the sheer joy of God gifting us yet again with more Grace.

At this Lambeth Conference, Grace flows through the day-to-day process, and also appears in sudden bursts. We are doing our Bible Study and indaba process day in, day out, characterized by talking and listening around specific subjects, voting on nothing, instead drafting together a reflection report to be issued at the end of the conference. By this time, we are communion. It makes some of us quite nervous, as we expect to be in greater control of what the result of a process will be even before we begin. We don’t get to do that this time and it feels a vulnerable place to be. In a way, it is like flying on the trapeze without a net - which I imagine is something one must get used to in the art of trapeze flying. The first several times feels strange, perhaps like subjecting oneself to Grace when we are accustomed to controlling outcomes. Today I checked in with a couple of people in my indaba about how they were feeling. It has been such a respectful and mature process that frankly I was not sure that people were really being honest about their thoughts and feelings. Today we talked about Human Sexuality, a day some of our bishops have dreaded, as the loudest, most anxious voices in our midst continue to demand some action for those of us (at the least) who support +Gene and the blessing of same-sex unions. However, by God’s Grace, the business of communion-building works, and at least in my group which reflects the diversity of the communion, a recognition that we are all in a difficult place, but that it is much better to be there together, has I think, developed over these weeks. I do not speak for all groups and I know that some conversations have been more contentious. Overall, however, I see communion ahead, and am very grateful that this conference has been designed with the wily Grace of God in mind.

Grace has also burst forth into our communion revealing Jesus stunningly and dramatically. Tuesday, we had a joint session with the spouses, who had been granted the power to plan our session. The content of our morning involved a frank presentation and conversation about violence against women. This included dramatic renderings of scripture about women, and a Bible study on II Samuel 13, the rape of Tamar, which drew out a variety of perspectives, including the feminist view on gender and power inequity. Other indigenous voices, this time from the order of laity - Jenny Te Paa of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Gerard West, a South African - lead us through this history making morning. Safe space for conversation was facilitated by the separation of women and men for the entire session. It was reported that close to 100 men walked out, some surely in need of the restroom (it was a long and uninterrupted session!) and others needing to attend another meeting, but many in protest of the topic itself. While the content of this session does not seem revolutionary to our American context, it was the first time the matter of violence against women was so thoroughly confronted at a Lambeth Conference. Many of us perceived this as a bursting in of Grace that will further the work of justice in our church and for the people we serve. I concur with Helen Wasongo, Anglican representative to the UN that if we work for justice for women first, we have a much greater chance of achieving the other millennium development goals. In addition, I believe the development of rights for women contributes positively to the long conversation of full inclusion of GLBT persons in our own context. The matter of justice around sexuality and gender are intertwined.

I have listened, spoken carefully, and learned more than I imagined. While difficult to be an American, female bishop in this context, the good far outweighs the challenging here. I have a much greater understanding of those who are angry with us, and experience with them, mutual patience and respect. We have worshipped, prayed, cried, argued, agreed and learned together. At least in my crowd (and one not of my choosing) here at Lambeth, communion is more important than moral certitude. Moreover, I am beyond grateful for our diocese and our country, for the rights we enjoy and expect, and how much we have to share with others in the world. My contextual understanding and compassion has deepened enormously for those who do not enjoy a fraction of what we do. There is so much need for so many things in the world, and I believe that strange Grace shall find a way to bring our common mission of reaching the poor and marginalized in Jesus’ name, including the whole creation, back to the forefront of our life together. May we in El Camino Real continue to prepare our hearts for the work God is going to ask of us; may we watch for Grace, anticipating its presence, as it comes steadily over time, or in large bursts of justice and love.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Signs Of The Times

All images from

New House Rules

It's your thang, eat what ya wanna eat. I can't yell, to pick dat meat.

DUDES! Let's party like Squid Bushman!

Squid Bushman (one of Bushmen of the Calamari) was the imaginary manager of A Cruel Hoax

Drop those walnuts and get off my lawn, too!!!

Less Than 100 Days

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008


Ya can't get these anymore!

Primado Barahona 'splains Things

++Martín Barahona, Bishop of the Diocese of El Salvador and Primado of IARCA (and one of my predecessors at San Cristóbal) 'splained things to Jim Naughton of The Lead at the Episcopal Café:
Meanwhile, I just ran into Bishop Martin Barahona, the primate of Central America in the café downstairs. I asked him his impressions of this afternoon’s hearings. “The Windsor Report,” he said. “It’s just a report. When did it become like The Bible. The Covenant. Why do we need another covenant? We have the Baptismal Covenant. We have the creeds. What else do we need?”
I love Martín (as does Caminante); he's always been the coolest!

Yesterday Was A Big Day

Yesterday Parroquia San Cristóbal celebrated her patronal festival with a bilingual service. The Coro de Jovenes joined the Adult Choir in procession. El Coro de Jovenes sang Dona Nobis Pacem, their first attempt at a canon, and it went well. The Lovely Mona and I sang with el coro.

We had visitors from St. Alban's Episcopal Church of Augusta, Georgia, and visitors from Houston, Texas and Sacramento, California, too. It was great to share our celebration with so many visitors. And, although we didn't get any photos of this, it was also Ricky and Marion Staple's 45th Wedding Anniversary, and they received a special blessing.

We also honored a few members of the parish for the good work they do. We honored Ms. Laura Walker, Ms. Margaret Bramwell, Ms. Teresa Brathwaite, Mr. Victor Skeete, Mr. Alfred (Tom) Lowe, and two of our young people: Ms. Crysthal Thomas, and Mr. Peter Wright. After the dismissal we all congregated on the patio for a Festive Coffee Hour with lots of good stuff to eat!

Here are the photos:

Chancel and Altar

Waiting for the procession


Censing the altar

Dona Nobis Pacem

Mr. Ruben McQueen, representing St. Christopher's Men's Fellowship, says nice things about Victor Skeet.

Barbara Smith, president of the ECW, Victor Skeet, Tom Lowe, Ruben McQueen, Clara Edwards

Ms. Margaret Bramwell

Teresa Brathwaite

Teresa's nieta came forward and hollered "¡Abuela!" with a gift

Peter Wright

Coffee Hour

Profesora Priscilla McQueen

Mrs. Doyle

Mrs. Adica Moore

In the afternoon the Lovely Mona and I attended the Methodist Church of Central America Panama Circuit Men's Commission presentation of the All Male Extravaganza. This is an ecumenical men's choir, originally started by the Methodists, but now has members from the following churches: First Baptist Church of Paraíso, National Baptist Church, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, St. Christopher's Parish, St. Paul's Parish, the Nazarene Evangelical Christian Church, Paraíso Methodist Church, Río Abájo Methodist Church, Wesley Methodist Church, several Seven Day Adventist churches, First Isthmian Baptist Church, Emanuel Baptist Church, Christ Church By-The-Sea (Episcopal), St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, and Trinity Methodist Church. It is a great choir, and I've sung with them in the past, and I've suggested that they change the name, maybe to something which doesn't make those of us from the SF Bay Area giggle, but they've been the All Male Extravaganza for fifteen years and I don't think they are going to change the name. Bernie Murray, our organist at La Misa a las 10:30 am, is the director and does a wonderful job. Several members of our parish are in the choir, and Rupert Neblett sang several solos, and Peter Wright as joined the choir, too. There were several special guests performing, too: Mr. Ricardo Dixon, an incredible Gospel singer, our friend Alfonso Lewis, who also played in the band, Mr. Leopoldo Magallon on the harp, and our dear friend Moises Castillo, an amazing male soprano with whom the Lovely Mona and I have sang in various choirs over the years. The Lovely Mona and Moises studied with the same voice teacher at Bella Artes de Universidad de Panamá. Alfonso Lewis plays many instruments, and you've seen photos of him playing at San Cristóbal and with El Gran Combo de San Cristóbal. Leopoldo Magallon plays what I call "Rock and Roll Harp." He plays in a very rhythmic style and the harp is electronically amplified. He and Alphonso were jamming, with Alphonso on the flute; it was kinda Herbie Mann meets Rock 'n Roll Harp. As usual, a couple of my friends and folks with whom I've played in the past are in the band: Prof. Abdiel Goddard on piano and Marcos Gilkes on drums. I don't know the bassist and guitarist: Hector Bolañios and José Ruíz, but they were very good, too. It was a great show! Photos!

The Bishop Clarence Hayes Gymnatorium begins to fill

The door

The All Male Extravaganza, Bernardo Murray, Director

Alfonso Lewis

Mr. Carl Scotland of St. Christopher's announces the next piece

Horn section hiding

Ricardo Dixon

Ricardo Dixon got the audience on their feet singin' and clappin'

The Christian Brothers. Members of the All Male Extravaganza who sing West Indian inspired hymns. I told them that, where I come from, Christian Brothers make wine.

That's Bernie on the far left

Moises Castillo

Leopoldo Magallon

Leopoldo and Alfonso jamming

I See You!

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