So we elected a new bishop in Louisiana. He's an openly heterosexual male in a monogamous relationship. He also seems to be a person of great faith who values relationships and community. While that may be of great import to Jesus who loved hanging out with people, listening to them, and building relationship, the Church seems more interested in making one's sexuality the only thing of focus.
Many of us are excited. We elected him on the third ballot, with time left to celebrate over chargrilled oysters and get back for me to watch Alabama demolish Florida for the SEC championship.
Because on paper, Alabama wasn't supposed to demolish Florida. They were the underdog, expected to lose against the might of Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Sports analysts talked about Florida's massive offensive line, Tebow's almost-the-Messiah quarterback status, and the Gator's stingy defense. Alabama seemed simply to have nice uniforms and a coach everyone in Louisiana hates (that, though, is another blog post). They'd probably make it a good game, but in the end, Florida would be making the trip to Pasadena and Alabama would get the consolation prize of the Sugar Bowl.
Sports analysts don't line up and play the game. They just talk. Too much, actually.
Because Alabama came to play. And play they did. Talking doesn't get you 32 points or hold Florida to 13. Talking doesn't leave Tebow in tears on the sideline, and talking doesn't win games. Talking is just that - talking.
So we elected a bishop. And before the election, we talked. We talked about the direction of the diocese, what we wanted and didn't want in our new bishop, and how we'd vote. And after the election, we'll talk some more. We'll analyze the bishop's every move, his sermons, his votes at various conventions, and we'll opine about what's offensive about him and what gets our defenses up regarding all things episcopal.
But ministry is not so much about talking. It's about action. Far too much ministry is an exercise of the mouth and the ego - talking about what should be done, about how we'd do it, and about why the church is failing because they (that ubiquitous word that distances us from one another) aren't doing things the way we would.
Ministry is love in action - saying we love one another, then actually proving we mean what we say. True ministry is running head-first into the forces of hate and prejudice, carrying the weak and disempowered to a better place. True ministry is admitting that we hurt each other (I call that failure) and repenting, acting better the next time. True ministry is stripping away the lines between them and us and seeing everyone as a child of God and treating them with that respect and love.
So, we can be ministry analysts, those priests and laity who talk and opine, but in the end don't do much more. Or we can be the players who walk into the vineyard prepared to love and serve.
I think our new bishop and the nameless person who has no home and all of God's children in between deserve ministers who act. So, get your asses onto the field. The game is being played.