Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The View from my room at Kent University (almost)

July 30, 2008

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Another warm humid day in Canterbury, 26C=79ยบ Fahrenheit (cool by Atlanta standards). Our worship this morning was led by the Church of Hong Kong. A very interesting reading from John 11:1-44 was done in parts by several readers, all in Cantonese. Then it was the usual day. Breakfast, hot or cold, followed by Bible Study. Today we had an enlightening and engaging conversation around John 11:1-44, "I am the resurrection and the life..." Our perspectives were much different as were our contexts. We had home work for today which was to prepare an outline or notes, no more than 300 words, to use this passage as a sermon in our context. We shared our outlooks and then were asked the question "what made for an Anglican interpretation of Scripture?" We decided it was in the communal nature of interpretation that it finds its Anglican identity. For us Scripture in not interpreted by a hierarchical body or by the individual but by the conversation of the whole community. As I put it, "The community embraces the text and makes it a living expression."

As usual, it was off to Indaba group. Today's topic, "The Bishop and the Bible in Mission." It wasn't long before that topic went out the window as we engaged in some very passionate and heated discussion of how the text of Scripture should be interpreted. Our opinions were widely different and the conversation shortly turned to one of human sexuality. Lots of opinions, and I want to underline the word "opinions." It was not a deeply theological conversation, but it certainly exposed the emotional hyperbole in the room. My hope is that this will set the stage for the next few days as we engage issues of sexuality as well as the concept of covenant for the Anglican Communion.

Following a quick lunch, it was back at 2:00 p.m. to hear the next set of reflections on the conference to date. Bishop Neil serves on the group that is working toward writing a summary of the conversations at Lambeth, so today we looked at their latest effort. There were many opinions as to what should have been included, how it should be presented, and what the final report should look like. The discussion did not rise to the level of the report itself. I have to confess, I had had enough when we got to debating the content of one of the footnotes. I took myself to the exhibit hall, bought a diet Coke (help support the local economy), and shopped at the vestment dealers. Note: Suzie doesn't allow me in there with a credit card since it's mostly books and vestments.

The day came to a close with evening prayers led by the chaplaincy staff of the conference. This evening was free for the first time in the conference. I wish I could tell you I did something wonderfully spectacular but laundry called.

God's good blessing on you, we miss Atlanta,

Bishop Keith

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