Division is not new to us, but the Holy Spirit lives and moves, and perhaps She is calling us away from our way of separation and toward a way of love: communion. There is evidence of this all around the global church and in our own Episcopal branch.
A committee not often talked about, far from the much of the drama of Convention, is Committee 19: Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations. At this General Convention, they are discussing resolutions about a more full communion with the Church of Sweden, the Church of South India, the Methodist Church, and the Lutheran Church in Bavaria. These are slow movements towards communion, usually taking at least nine years for an official standing on closer relationship, much less full communion, to pass. This committee does not seek union, but they seek communion, communion as a mutual, beneficial, and loving relationship. In Christ, we are one and will be when Christ comes again but, in the meantime, communion seems like a wonderful way to dwell together.
Guests from around the Anglican Communion are present at this Convention. The Episcopal Church recognizes the cost and the beauty of communion, even as conversation continues among Anglican provinces about what communion looks like and how we go about living peaceably in communion. At this Convention, we are hearing, talking about, and hopefully taking action towards racial reconciliation. There is no dream for unity, but we are beginning to uncover the next steps on the road to communion.
Discussions about one of our disciplines of unity, marriage, are heated. Obviously, Episcopalians disagree yet communion seems to be emerging. How can we remain The Episcopal Church that allows marriage of all God’s people and maintain space for those who do not agree with this doctrine? It sounds as though both sides of an argument want to find space for each other. There is a stronger love at work than we may sometimes believe. It may be time to start believing.
“Keep your eyes on the prize.” Presiding Bishop Curry preached at the opening Eucharist. That prize, of course, is Jesus known to us through the Gospels, and Christ’s love is greater than anything we, in our human limitations, imagine to be possible. We are lucky to be the Church because we have the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit may be calling all God’s people towards greater communion now—in the Episcopal Church and Christ’s Church all around the world. This communion changes everything—us, our families, our churches, and our world.
Who do we want to be together in Christ? Communion is something in which all people with their many differences can participate, and we have lots of space to improve. Each Christian following the way of Jesus can make the reality of communion greater. We are not stuck as the church of 1054 but of 2018, I hope everyone can tell that difference.