Saturday, May 10, 2008
Bishop Gene Robinson, of New Hampshire, has been uninvited to attend the Lambeth conference of the Anglican Church. Eight hundred of his esteemed colleagues from around the globe will be attending. The Anglican Church or The Church of England or, what we here in the United States call The Episcopal Church, have singled out Bishop Robinson because he is openly gay. The Lambeth conference happens once every ten years and even though Robinson has been asked to stay away he plans on going anyway.
“The table that God invites us to includes everyone, and the church is going to get it wrong sometimes. I think the Archbishop of Canterbury has gotten this wrong by not inviting everyone. I’m going to go and offer myself and talk with anyone who wants to talk to someone who is unashamedly gay and unashamedly Christian.”
Robinson gained public attention in 2003 when he was consecrated into his position as bishop. His consecration to bishop caused a rift in the Episcopal Church and about one hundred churches in this country have since split with the Episcopal Church and are now more aligned with the bishops of, the much more conservative, Anglican Church of Africa and South America. That's one hundred out of about eight thousand. Robinson wore a bullet proof vest under his vestments at his consecration in 2003 because of death threats he'd received.
Due to his refusal to stay away from the Lambeth conference the Most Reverend Robinson is once again receiving death threats. He has announced that he and Mark Andrew, his partner of twenty years, are planning a civil union. Robinson says they have chosen to do this now in the face of death threats so as to put into place the protections for Mr. Andrew and Robinson's two daughters, from a previous marriage, that are offered to those in a union under the law. This, I'm sure, is fanning the flames of the pyre already set by irate "Christians" who see Robinson and the church that appointed him as going against God's word.
In response to the recent death threats Robinson calmly said "We are told in Scripture that it will always be costly to follow in God's way."
I really can't imagine what kind of emotional state I would be in if I announced I was going to do something I believed to be correct and in response to that was told I might very well be assassinated. I may decide to postpone or even change my plans. Gene Robinson, however, is courageously going ahead with what he feels is right.
This is a brave man.
“When your life is at stake, you learn that there are things in life that are much worse than death. Not living your life — that’s worse than death. And if something were to happen to me, I would know that I am doing what I discern God is calling me to do.”
This is a Holy man.
Robinson stands as a role model for all who call themselves people of faith. A true example of what it means to walk with God. He continues to stand firm in the face of danger and difficulty. He remains determined and committed to do the right thing regardless of personal consequence. I urge every minister, preacher, rabbi, imam, priest, nun and chaplain to take a long look at the resolve of this worthy prelate and pray to have the courage that this one man continues to show for his faith, for what he believes is good and right and for those who will follow after he is gone. I believe time will prove him a hero and a pioneer.
“I’ve come to understand that this is a particular historic role that God is calling me to play at this moment. God has seemed so palpably close in this, there’s no way I could regret this. My job as a bishop of the church is to exhibit God’s love for all of God’s people, especially my enemies.”