Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Women Bishops in the Church of England

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?”
Mark 8:34-37

This morning I read that several Bishops in the Church of England are leaving the Anglican Church and uniting with the Roman Catholic Church. They are doing this because the Anglicans have voted to allow women to become bishops. In their minds this decision is “incompatible” with “2,000 years of Christian teaching.”

By Christian teaching, of course, they mean the teaching of Rome.

In the Gospels, Jesus is very clear about this. He did not appoint women to be bishops. And he never implied that women ought to be bishops. Or priests. Or pastors. Actually, as far as we know, Jesus never said a word about bishops, priests or pastors, male or female.

One wonders how this could possibly be an issue for anyone. What would make someone believe that the witness for Christ would be compromised by having a woman bishop?

Jesus was focused on the Kingdom of God. That’s what we pray for, and that’s where we are called to live. He challenged us to live out God’s justice and righteousness on earth, to take up that cross and follow him; against the empire (even if it means death) and for the Kingdom of God.

And instead, a significant part of the church of Jesus Christ is arguing about whether women can be bishops. Do I see a world-wide LOL?

This morning as I enjoyed coffee and a bagel sitting by the fireplace at Panera, reading the New York Times on my Blackberry, I thought about the bishops and their hypocrisy. And I thought about the contrast between what they were doing and the teachings of Jesus.

And I made two mental notes:

1. Write blog about bishops and about Jesus’ challenge to “take up the cross and follow me.”
2. Go online and fill out my Panera card.

Really. I had those two thoughts in my head at the same time. And then it occurred to me to ask, “Who am I kidding?” I am no closer to the cross than the Anglican Bishops. Their hypocrisy does not make me faithful.

As you can see, that moment of introspection and confession did not deter me from writing the blog. And I can’t help taking comfort in the fact that I do not wear a pointy hat.

As Martin Luther said, "Love God, and sin boldly.

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