It was a simple statement, “Our shortage of Bishops in the Independent Movement is over! Praise God!” It seems innocuous doesn’t it?
But it made me angry. And it hurt me. Why? Was it referring to me? No. It was referring to the news that one of our priests has been elected to the Office of Bishop. So why does it matter to me?
It matters because our church works very hard to make sure that we select good candidate to do the work of the church. We have a process that requires education, criminal background checks every 3 years, Stewards of Children training every 3 years, Psychological screening and interviews with members of our church. Then the candidates are sent to the Commission on Ordained Ministry. This is body fo 5 clerics who review their files, all their supporting paperwork, and then vote on whether or not they feel they would be a good fit in out church.
For Bishops or a cleric put forth for consecration, they must go through the above process (a second time if they are already a member of our church) and then have their information reviewed by the College of Bishops and Vicars who also vote on their suitability. Only if a 2/3 majority of both bodies find them acceptable, do they move forward.
On top of that, they will be waiting until next June before they are consecrated. Which means that there is more time for growth and spiritual development.
Yet, clergy in the ISM feel it is their duty and obligation to snipe at us. People who claim to be Franciscans acting in a way that would make St. Francis cry. And for what? A cheap laugh? A feeling of superiority? That is, of course, one of the most important qualities a cleric must have! Right?
Today in our world people are dying from lack of food, medication and care. Our own Congress is working to take away food assistance and healthcare for not only poor adults, but also for children and military veterans. People are dying in our cities due to increased gun violence. And what are we doing as Christians and Clergy to help them?
We are sniping at each other. Putting each other down. Holding our heads high as we declare, “I am more valid than you,” or that, “I have more lines of Succession than you.” We work for weeks to destroy each others ministry. We walk around acting as though it is a contest to see who can be the best at destroying someones ministry or chasing them away from their calling.
We have become a sad lot. It is time to start working together, rather than tearing each other down. It is time to be true Christians, or to stop lying to ourselves and others. It is time to help the homeless, the poor, the orphan and the widow so that Sodom and Gomorra do not rise up at our judgement to condemn us for our inhospitality.
It is time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It is time we all put our money where our mouths are and live what we say we believe.
I, for my part, am willing to work with any of those in the ISM who truly want to work to advance the Kingdom of God. However, if all you want to do is play games and continue the pattern of ISM abuse, then please, turn and walk away.
It has been a very long week and many of us in the religious world are exhausted. I, for one, have slept very little since the week started. Many prayers have been offered and many statements made about the events of this week.
And tonight, this saga is finally over. One suspect in the bombing of the Boston Marathon is dead and the other is in custody. Many people have already drawn their conclusions concerning these individuals. In the court of public opinion has already tried, convicted and sentenced them to death.
But that cannot be our response. We are a nation of laws. Many of us are people of faith. Regardless of which faith you are, almost all faiths teach its followers to show compassion on those who do us wrong. We must wait for all the facts. We must wait for the laws of the land to do their jobs. And in all of this, we must be very careful not to assume facts that are not in evidence.
One such case of this is the case of Muslims in New York and Boston who have been physically assaulted because of the assumption that they must be terrorist simply because they are Muslim. This is not right. It is not the way Christ would have us act. How would you like to be held accountable for Westboro Baptist Church’s hate speech? Or how would you like to be assaulted because of Eric Robert Rudolph’s bombing of abortion clinics? These people claim to be Christians and since they have done these acts doesn’t that mean all Christians are just like them?
Of course not! And the same is true of these radicals. They do not represent all of Islam nor do they represent all immigrants. As such, people should refrain from such generalizations and such radical vigilantism that has led to innocent people being attacked.