I'm listening to Bishop Gene Robinson on Fresh Air.
Terry Gross asked him about how the church is changing. He pointed out how Jesus said "there are many more things I want to teach you, but you are not able to hear them now, so I will send to you the Holy Spirit." He said that full inclusion of women and GLBT people in the church is the Holy Spirit leading us to a fuller understanding of God's love. He said that in Jesus' day people might have said, OK Jesus this is all good, but you know, we really have to the draw the line with lepers...or with prostitutes. For countless generations various groups of people have been told that they are not loved by God. Jesus countered that, always, within the culture in which he lived. We are called to do the same.
I think that's so true. I feel such heartache, even pain, whenever the subject of Episcopalians in my part of the country comes up. Women cannot be ordained around here if they are Episcopalians. What evil rot.
He is planning a civil union ceremony this summer with his partner Mark. "I knew it was a mistake when the words came out of my mouth," he said, but while on C-SPAN he said "Well I always wanted to be a June bride." This raced around the world on the internet, and the reason it did, in Bishop Robinson's opinion, is because of misogyny. "I'm suppose to be privileged because I'm male, so to refer to myself with a feminine word such as 'bride' offends the patriarchal structure."
Two years after he was consecrated he wrote a letter to his congregants saying he was going into rehab for alcoholism. Felt that alcohol was becoming a "too-easy" crutch. Never interfered with his work life, but he kept drinking when he got home, to relax. But it increased. Decided to put himself in God's hands, and through the miracle of God's grace, now "I'm in a place two and-a-half years later where I rarely ever even think about alcohol. Such an astounding miracle. I had spent such energy worrying about it." He was concerned about making this public, but said that Scripture reminds us that God's work is done by people with clay feet, by people willing to be who they are, warts and all. Yet God does amazing things through them. "We're all flawed. I'm trying to be faithful. Trusting that God would make an Easter out of this Good Friday."
How do handle the stress now? "I use to bring work home and do it with a glass of wine. I don't work at home much anymore. Mark and I both love to garden. I bought a bike the other day. And of course my prayer life. The older I get, the fewer words I use in my prayer life. I sit quietly, close my eyes, and I let God love me. My spiritual director suggested that I think of it as light or warmth flowing over me, letting God's love ooze over me like warm butter. Feel God loving me. I find that brings me such peace and joy and reassurance and confidence, and literally in this storm I'm in, it brings me back to the center where God is, where I remember who I am and Whose I am.
How beautiful. To just stop. Stop. Stop. And let myself FEEL God's love.
What do you do now with the anger you might be feeling? Well, I'm very grateful to have my partner and others who know and love me and with whom I can give voice to those initial feelings--I can say to them the anger I'd never say to other people. Plus I really do believe what I say, which is that I can't write anyone off, that God loves all my enemies as much as God loves me. And God sees something in that person worth loving, so I should try to see something worth loving, too. I know I sound kind of Pollyanna, but I really do believe what I'm saying.
Pretty amazing coming from someone who has to wear a bulletproof vest and have security whenever he attends big functions. Wow.