Thursday, 18 October 2007

Resistance to pride — Grace to humility

In his blog reaction to last week’s Lambeth Conference post Fr Fracisco Silva from Brazil appeals for Lambeth to be “ecclesial” rather than “ecclesiastical.” I've been thinking about what these terms mean to me:
  • Ecclesial = a process of being Church by pooling weakness, exposing ourselves to grace in shared humility, breaking bread, honest confession. This Eucharistic process makes the Church more authentic, enacts what it is called to be in the world, and so strengthens the body. It produces personal Alignment, based on conviction and awareness of common weaknesses that have been shared.
  • Ecclesiastical = a process of trying to hold and grow the Institution by allowing the strong to assert themselves, voting that produces winners and losers. You can't make omelettes without breaking eggs, as Trotsky used to say. Under a varnish of religious language, political activity gives victory to the winners and eliminates the losers, thus strengthening the herd. It produces institutional public Alignment, based on fear and surrender to threats and force majeure.
In these terms, Ecclesiastical processes produce Omelettes, and Ecclesial ones New Life.

There’s a James 4:6 / I Peter 5:5 principle — God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. A few years ago Stephanie (our second daughter) did a radically simple but rather haunting picture. It shows Stephanie out with her skateboard whistling past a couple of snooty people. She never did tel me why the lady has a moustache, but it seems to beling on her stiff upper ip. I keep this picture in my study to remind me about the kind of disciple I’m called to be. Most days, I ask myself “who, in this picture, would people say I am?”
The choice is ours. How do we want to be? How does the world need us to be? How does God call us to be?

1 comment:

Xico said...

Dear Bishop
Thank you again for your wise words on resist pride. I remember the Paul's writings:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others".Phil 2:3-4.

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