Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weddings, Marriage, Same Sex Blessings, Confusion Reigns

Today's readings at church seemed to point to the "M" word.

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
   and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
   and her salvation like a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your vindication,
   and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
   that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
   and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
   and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
   and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
   and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
   so shall your builder (your sons) marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
   so shall your God rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:1-5

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-1
Raising the subject of weddings in an Episcopal church tends to lead to the inevitable discussion on homosexual blessing or weddings.

In today's sermon we were treated to a straight-forward homily focusing on weddings, making something out of nothing (lemonade out of wine), but we were spared any mention of same-sex blessings. Of course, we were also spared any mention of our Creator's intentions, and any mention of what Jesus and the Bible might have said about the subject of same-sex weddings.

Ah well, such is the homilist's dilemna: whether to duck and run or whether to let em know how you really feel.

I wonder how Bishop Steven Miller of the Diocese of Milwaukee handled it? He is one amongst a large crowd of confused Episcopal clergymen on the subject of marriage (okay there I went and used the "M" word). This article in the Milwuakee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel demonstrates Bishop Miller's unusual take on blessing homosexual practice in the church,

Bishop Steven Miller has yet to decide whether he'll allow the provisional rite approved by the church to be used in its parishes. And the lack of a decision is frustrating many in a diocese that strongly supported the change. 
Miller argues the provision as adopted creates a two-tier system in the Episcopal Church and does nothing to advance marriage equality.
He has proposed eliminating the church's civil function in conducting marriages, returning that to the state, and rewriting the Book of Common Prayer to define marriage as between two people, regardless of gender.

"There is a difference between Christian marriage and civil legality," Miller said.

"The blessing rite, while trying to achieve justice for one group of people, creates an injustice for another," he said, pointing to, for example, elderly heterosexual couples who cannot marry for financial reasons.
"We don't have the authority to bless those unions," he said. 

The Rev. Kevin Carroll, dean of All Saints Cathedral in Milwaukee, said he believes the rite will eventually be adopted in some form in the diocese.

"I think what we're working on is how to honor people . . . who still hold up a traditional view of marriage, but still more forward with the intent and spirit of the general convention's vote last summer," said Carroll.

"My guess is, by this time next year, we'll have a better idea what we're doing."

Which means to say that right now they haven't got a clue as to what they are doing. The reason for their cluelessness is simply that they have walked apart from the Apostolic Faith and the wisdom they are supposed to be teaching (the wisdom that been delivered to us as it is found in Scripture). They are on their own.
"In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Judges 21: 25

Not every Episcopal Bishop is twisting their undies in knots about same sex blessings, and they don't see this as "doing nothing to advance marriage equality" as Bishop Miller complains. Instead, other bishops see this as just the kind of blessing that Jesus would endorse. Read (in the El Paso Times) the words of Bishop Michael Vono of the rapidly declining Diocese of the Rio Grande,

"I'm very positive about it," he said. "We live in an age where there is still a lot of judgment, still a lot of discrimination that happens within Christianity. We exclude people that are not like ourselves.

"So this may be the Jesus thing to do in our age because Jesus forced the issue that no one is rejected by God and that all people are loved. And if you have two responsible people, whether heterosexual or gay, who love in a Christian way -- which is responsibly and exclusively monogamous and help each other and forgive each other -- what more can we ask for?"

 All people are loved, but not all the things we do are loved. We are loved so much that Jesus blesses us by forgiving those unloving things we have done and by commanding us to "go and sin no more."

I am afraid that Bishop Vono and Bishop Miller have mis-read that last line and are quite prepared to tell their flock to "Go and sin some more."

Pray for the sheep of these confused shepherds.

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