Monday, August 25, 2008

I went

Thank you for all the advice and support.
I went to St James yesterday for the baptisms, confirmation and acceptance service despite the presence of Bishop Robert Forsyth. The service was long, 2 hour 10 minutes, and packed but I enjoyed it very much. I discovered all the people involved were not from our church but also several nearby parishes. There were 2 baptisms, one for a baby which I felt could have been at some other time. We often have baptisms as St James is a society church and many people want their children 'done' there. You can always tell when there is a large group in the front pews who are obviously lost in the service. The priest usually parades around the church with the baby to many 'oohs and aahs" for which there was no time yesterday. A young woman was also baptised and later confirmed. This was my first attendance at an adult baptism and quite emotional for me. Ten young people were confirmed and 3 older people including one man from our choir were accepted from other churches. When I was confirmed many years ago, it was the done thing for young people whose family attended the 'Church of England' and while I found it important in my spiritual life, for most of the others it was just another society event. I think there were about 40 and we were confirmed 2 at a time in a mid-week service so not as personal as yesterday when each were confirmed by name and their sponsor stood behind them.

I was pleased with Bishop Forsyth. A lady told me beforehand that when ++Jensen visited he stood bolt upright while the rest of the people at the altar bowed. Bishop Forsyth at least bowed his head at the correct times and made the sign of the cross during the blessing. He also carried a bishop's crook which I have not seen in Sydney before. He really got the works, being St Bartholomew day, as we only use incense on such days. The kyries are sung in Greek and the Gloria, Sanctus and motets are sung in Latin. However I noticed he was singing the 'Laudate Dominum' as they processed to and from the font. I was very surprised that he used the oil of Chrism to mark the sign of the cross on the forehead of each candidate. That was not done when I was confirmed in an evangelical church.

He preached on the gospel for St Bartholomew. He did comment that his photo was on the front of the newsheet (the icon of St Bartholomew) to raise a laugh. He also began by quoting from his friend Bishop Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham. The sermon was evangelistic but this is okay occasionally, my problem is when the preacher tries to convert the faithful week after week as often happens in Sydney churches. I felt it a little ironic that the quote from Bishop Wright was about God not being a vengeful God who is a 'spy in the sky'. I did leave by the side door rather than shake hands. I had my pink triangle badge in my pocket but decided to be discrete and left it there. I cannot forget that he is a gafcon bishop who will not take communion with those who consecrated Bishop Gene Robinson.


Fran said...

I am really glad to hear that you went- it sounds like a good thing by and large.

It is astounding for me to think of bishops not taking communion with others... just as it astounds me in my own church when one is denied communion.

Anyway, I was so curious to know how it went. Thanks for this Brian.

(and for your lovely comment on my post today. thank you deeply.)

Robert said...

I'm glad to hear that you had such a great and uplifting experience. I'm always moved by baptisms.

Malcolm+ said...

I think it's good you went. It does us no good when we adopt the self-indulgent tactics of those who refuse to receive communioon when "those people" are in the room.

Anonymous said...

"A friend of Tom Wright"
Say no more

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Good for you, Brian. Good for the church. Good for the bishop.

Here's the thing about abstaining from Eucharist.

It can't be done. Not if we believe what we say about the great mystery of Holy Communion.

Even "abstaining" bishops who don't want to get "LGBT cooties by proxy" may not there physically, but by the grace of God and the mystery of the sacrament, they can not NOT be there.

Nor can we be excluded from any "purer form" of Eucharist. We are there, anyway.

That is the mystery of our faith and belief in the nature of "communion."

There are those who will be surprised by that. Imagine their greater surprise when they get to heaven and everyone they think couldn't possibly be there will be among the first to provide a joyous welcome!

Of such is the Realm of God.

You participated in that act of faith in a powerful, courageous, faithful way.

Good on yer, mate! I have no doubt Jesus was well pleased.

Alcibiades said...

Good on you for going Brian, and I’m glad it went well for you. I can well understand you not being able to shake Forsyth’s hand though: I’ve got to admit that I certainly couldn’t (although the feeling is almost certainly mutual ;-) I still can’t forget him proudly boasting about having publically denied a lesbian couple communion (even though one of his own staff at the time was living in a closet so see-through I still have lesbian friends asking me “HTF did that figure?”, nor for having just about destroyed my closest friend from college for opening his parish to the local LGBT community.

That he was so public in his support for N.T.Wright (who’s currently being slammed as “a liberal wolf in sheep’s clothing” around Sydney’s corridors of power) is as amusing as his making the sign of the cross and carrying a mitre (both of which I’ve personally heard him decry as “shameful popish affectations”) and show how much he’s hoping to find a place of his own out from under the Jensens’ watchful eyes.

I’d be watching out, Father Heron – South Sydney’s suffragan looks to me as if he’s trying very hard to see out his twilight in an evangelical English diocese. And if you thought your current Bishop is a pain in the proverbial…. ;-)

June Butler said...

Brian, it was good for you to be there. Thanks for telling us the story.

Elizabeth, you are soooo right. We are in communion, and even if some entity decides that the Episcopal Church is no longer in communion with Canterbury and other churches, we will still be in communion in the sight of God, which is what counts.

I suspect that the most surprised folks of all in the heavenly kingdom will be the fundamentalists and the hard line Roman Catholics.

Brian R said...

Thank you everyone. Mimi, I do hope that all the national churches remain in the communion. I do so love the feeling that I am in a church (if not a diocese) that is in communion with you, Elizabeth and other priests like her and especially +Gene Robinson.

Grendel said...

Brian R,

(the "r" is for you did the Right thing)

I am glad you decided to go. I am proud of you. This shows you Rock Even Harder than previously posited! (that's alliteration)

'cause communion is being together, even with the mean and stinky.

Oh, and what Ms. Lizbet said, too. She's Super Smart.