Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hitting the Road

With Thoughts About Covenant

All this stuff about Lambeth is well and good. But I am making my way to St. Louis to chair a meeting of the Companion Diocese Committee. This is the diocesan committee charged with finding ways to bring relief and support to our friends in the southern Sudanese diocese of Lui, where they have no running water, no electricity, no health care, no sustainable agriculture. I'm one of the many who has spent time with the Sudanese in Lui.

Here's a photo from when I worshipped with the folks in Lui at their cathedral in early 2006.

By the way, when the dioceses of Missouri and Lui first engaged in discussion, we rejected the colonial, paternalistic mode. So we spent a couple of years visiting back-and-forth and finally developed a written covenant together. We discussed it here in Missouri. And the folks in Lui discussed it -- on their own, and in meetings like the one depicted below, where members of the diocese of Missouri and leaders of the diocese of Lui asked them if we had "got it right" about their priorties.

It seems to me that's what a covenant should be and how it should be developed. It should be developed slowly, respectfully, and with input and support from all the parties involved. That's how the covenant betweeen Missouri and Lui was developed. And quite unlike the "Anglican Covenant" that has been handed down from on high and may be discussed in Canterbury.

So ... the Anglican World will have to turn without me on Sunday, while I work with my diocese to partner with the folks in Lui to bring safe drinking water, basic health care, sustainable agriculture, affordable schools ... to the people of Lui who have spent decades in civil war. And we will again find ourselves humbled and our spiritual lives enriched in the process.

Mind you: It never occurred to us to question the faith of the Christians in Lui. We saw it all the time and everywhere. In their fragile lives, and in the way they welcomed us. They welcomed us as brother and sister Christians. Always. All the time. That's what the Anglican Communion is in most places. It's not about litmus tests. It's about bearing one another's burdens and singing the song of the Lord in a strange land.


Blogger Fran said...

Wow, you are off to actually help people?

And not judge them?

You could be onto something here, Lisa.

Godspeed my sister.

7/20/2008 1:12 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Safe travels.

7/20/2008 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this regard, I hope you will enjoy my new post at 12:00 am.


7/20/2008 8:13 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

A covenant that is about partnership rather than control.

What a strange idea.

I'm sure it'll never fly.


7/20/2008 8:42 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm just home from St. Louis and the committee meeting.

Thanks for your comments, my friends. Thanks for the traveling mercies, Jan. I am again home safe and sound. Let me try to offer a few words.

Yes, FranIAm, helping and bearing one another's burdens is the order of the day.

Let me confess: When I travelled to Lui in early 2006, I had some stupid notion of "helping the Africans." It was anything but! Yes, we are discovering ways to provide material assistance to our friends in Lui. But ya know what? They are deepening our spiritual lives. My time there was profoundly humbling. Someday, perhaps I can really write about how it has changed me. Not simply changed the way I use our natural resources. But changed who I am.

And someday, if/when I am sufficiently energetic, articulate, and brave, I will talk about what it was like for me to be (probably) the first gay Christian person who actually worked and played with them. I keep wanting to write about that, but never quite have the energy to do so.

Let me be clear: The Sudanese I know believe we are dead wrong in tolerating homosexual activity. But their experience with 20 or so folks from our diocese makes them know it is a lie when folks claim that TEC is heretical or apostate. They recognize and honor our deep faith, as we honor theirs. We have agreed that we can disagree about this matter.

Meanwhile, we are working hard to improve their material lives and we are cracked open as we encounter their hope and faithfulness. I believe we are all benefitting.

Scott, I'll have to find your blog and see what you wrote.

Yes, Malcolm+. Isn't is a wild and crazy idea: Covenanting rather than controlling? Only God could have dreamed up such a stupid idea! :)

7/20/2008 10:49 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

What you say reflects the words of not only people I know that have been on trips like this (I have not) but also of a blogging friend of mine who works full time in a homeless shelter.

I think we all think of the ways we want to "help"- as well intentioned as that is.

However, the Body of Christ is so much more dynamic than the linear help we envision.

That is the difference between unconnected and well-meaning giving and true charity.

OK, shutting up now.

7/21/2008 8:22 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yes, FranIAm. And please don't shut up.

7/22/2008 7:29 AM  

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