Wayne Smith's occasional blog of pilgrimages and journeys

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Saturday, August 2. The Conference winds down.

As I glance back over my early posts during this peculiar pilgrimage, I am aware of a weariness having set in, during these most recent days. There is a Groundhog-Day quality, I suppose, to any conference marking an intentional rhythm to the day. But that everyday sameness, coupled with the spiritual and emotional intensity of the work set before us, has left me ready for the Conference's end. As one colleague put it, "When we first arrived in Canterbury about six months ago . . . . " And then today I awoke with a cold. I want to go home.

The awareness of a few millions praying for us around the Anglican world has been very close throughout the Conference, and no more so than during Bible study this morning, when we considered the text John 18:1-18 and pondered the question: What makes it possible for a leader to lead the way Jesus led? Whatever else, we all agreed, the prayers of many are crucial. Whatever provisional successes this Conference has arrived at--the palpable deepening of relationships, the near absence of poisonous statements, the tendency away from grandstanding, a desire for solidarity in mission, the fact that no one stormed out in protest--has happened in no small part because you have prayed, and that your prayers joined the prayers of millions. That we have arrived at these most modest achievements is no small matter, given the gloomy prognostications of many beforehand. I say "provisional successes," partly because not all the bishops were here, as you well know. They are provisional also because of the fragility of many relationships, despite their having grown during our time together. They are provisional, because they have yet to be field-tested among the whole of the baptized. Even so, the bishops are mostly trying to find ways to walk toward one another, and that gives hope for sustaining the unity in baptism that is already ours, through Christ Jesus.

Another reason for the provisional successes lies in Archbishop Rowan's spiritual leadership. Framing the Conference in prayerful listening by beginning with a retreat set the tone, and he was responsible for the content of the retreat, its shape, and the tone thereby set. It modeled the discipline of careful listening at the heart of all we have tried to accomplish. Archbishop Rowan has taken, and continues to take, many hits for his manner of leading in the Anglican Communion over these past years. Well, leaders have feet of clay, and hammers for smashing those feet are readily available. He has absolutely been in his element at Lambeth, and he shaped the Conference according to his own deeply held spiritual sensibilities.

Indaba today discussed the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group, a report of which can be found in the Episcopal News Service daily report from Lambeth. There is nothing more that I want to say about a work still in progress, but I do know that there will be more.

And tonight under the Big Top, we heard from a panel of four stewards, representatives of the fifty assertive young adults from fifteen nations who have made the logistics of this large conference possible. It simply would not have come off, without someone to tell us all which bus to board, and when, and without someone to block, ever so politely, the occasional uncredentialed member of the press from entering a venue. It was very good feedback to hear from them, and even better to hear their expression of faith.

1 comment:

Lisa Fox said...

I continue to pray, dear Bishop. But tonight those prayers are mixed with tears at the reports I am reading from many of TEC's bishops.

It looks as if TEC bishops will be forced to make a choice: unity? or caring in deed for the gay and lesbian Christians in this chuch? Truly a Sophie's choice.

Given the physically and emotionally gruelling experience of these 6 months at Lambeth ;-) it's no wonder you're coming down with a cold. Come home.