Saturday, November 24, 2007

Anxiety, Fear, and Expectation

As I contemplate Christ the King Sunday, Thanksgiving, this season of Advent, and the escalating unrest across the Episcopal Church and, to a lesser extent, the Anglican Communion, it strikes me afresh how much we are in an unsettled, Advent-like time in the church and in the world. We have had a spate of letters to various bishops from our Presiding Bishop warning against actions that could be seen as "abandoning the communion of the church" and, at least so far, seemingly not making a bit of difference in the subsequent actions of their respective Diocesan Conventions. It seems as if we are headed for uncharted territory in the Anglican Communion and the level of anxiety is as high as I've ever seen it.

As I've remarked before in this blog, anxiety is a difficult state from which to make good decisions. In such a state we tend to devolve to the "fight or flight" response to just about everything. I'm a lurker on the House of Deputies/Bishops email list and even (perhaps especially!) there, it seems that every comment, even a seemingly innocuous one, provokes a flurry of responses, many critical. It would be nice to simply declare a "time out" from all of this, take a deep breath (or several!) and simply wait for what God will do. In other words, what we apparently need is a season like...Advent!

I doubt the first "Advent" (weeks prior to the birth of Christ) was any less tense and anxiety-ridden as this current time. There were factions in the Temple, the country was occupied by a hostile foreign power, and God had not spoken to God's people in hundreds of years. Into this time comes Immanuel, God with us. God breaks in to an anxious world as the Prince of Peace. I hope and pray that these Advent weeks will be a time of deep breathing, expectation, and peaceful prayer as we wait not only for Jesus' coming again, but for all that God will do in, through, and sometimes in spite of the Episcopal Church.

No comments: