"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Thursday, March 04, 2004 Just came back last night from a week of traveling, first to Boston and then to Tampa, FL. Two different meetings -- both about the church and global peace and justice. Both amazing.
No one should ever watch TV news ever again. Because if you watch TV, you can't help but just feel like the world is going to hell. You see all the death and destruction and you don't see what I've seen the last week -- so MANY amazing people who are giving their lives to help others ... to help people they have never met and could very easily, if they wanted to, ignore.
John Lipscomb is the bishop of Southwest Florida. James Jelinek is the bishop of Minnesota. John voted against Gene Robinson's consecration at General Convention and stood up with the dissenting bishops after the House of Bishops consented and called for the Anglican primates to intervene. Jim voted for Gene's consecration and was the celebrant at the Integrity celebration Eucharist after convention.
These are two men who are deeply entrenched on opposite sides of the current church war. And yet for two days this week, they sat side by side at our meeting in Tampa and worked together, laughed together, shared together, lived together. Both are going to Africa in the next several months to help with works reconciliation of tribal warfare and HIV/AIDS. Both know an important truth -- that what we are doing together reaching out to help those in need ... and to receive the Christ that those in need bear to us that WE desperately need ... is so much more important than our quarrels about sexuality as to render them meaningless.
In June, I'll be headed to Ghana. Now, in addition to the work I'll be doing with James Sarpei there, I'll be visiting a refugee camp outside of Accra where 3000 Liberian refugees are being detained, hoping to be resettled in America or another receiving country. I'll be visiting as an official representative of the Episcopal Church, and making policy recommendations when I return as to how our office of government relations should lobby the U.S. government on their behalf.
And I think about doing things like this and on one hand, I think it's absolutely ridiculous. Who the hell am I? I'm just some guy from Tucson, Arizona. Some nutty campus minister from Missouri. And I'm trying to help halt the spread of AIDS in Africa and help 3000 Liberian refugees get their lives back.
All of which just goes to show all of us that changing the world is not about elections or grand movements ... it's about each one of us letting God move through us to do things that we never imagined we would be doing when we were sitting in our 3rd grade classroom ... and can scarcely imagine we are doing now. It's about using our power to prove the talking heads on the TV wrong. It's about being one of the many, many, too many to mention people who are working for good in this world.
I have spent the last week surrounded by statistics and stories about how bad it is all over the world. And I've never been more hopeful. Because I've also been surrounded by ordinary people who care enough to try to make a difference. And as deep as the darkness is, that's a light that will never go out.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."