South Carolina Episcopalians

An Independent Journal of News & Commentary for Anglicans

not affiliated with ACNA, the Episcopal Church or its dioceses

  A Reflection

August 20, 2017
As the legal dust settles, we should start figuring out our 'right relationships' with each other

I can go for days without thinking about righteousness.

I know it is a good thing but, seriously, would you want to be married to someone who considers his or her best trait as "righteous," or go to a Super Bowl party to which only righteous people were invited? 

Not really.

A few months ago, the Dean of St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta preached a sermon that inspired many in the congregation to rethink our ambivalence toward righteousness.  He challenged us to re-imagine its traditional Biblical context, and think of it as meaning in a right relationship with God and our neighbors.

That was on my mind this week in the wake of the state Supreme Court ruling.  Many Episcopalians and former Episcopalians are taking stock of what their side has gained and lost.  Most of us know all too well what we’ve lost.  We are still struggling to understand what we have gained.   

Most of us are still handicapped by our us-versus-them mindset.

Lawyers are in overdrive combing the 77-page opinion for any speck of opportunity to advance the cause of their clients in appeals or even new litigation.  Lay people are needlessly fretting about the future of their church home or concerned that their children will be denied access to Camp St. Christopher.  

Most regrettable is that once close friends and families have been torn apart by the traumatic events of the past 15 years.  We have put so much energy into accusing each other of un-Christian and un-Biblical behavior, that we have had little left over to feed the hungry, care for the sick, comfort the oppressed… or care for each other.

“Lawsuit fatigue” is what a friend in one of the breakaway parishes calls it.

My suggestion is that all of us make it our mission – our priority, in fact -- to figure out what it will take to get us into right relationships with each other again.  We can’t go back in time, so we might actually have to take some risks and create something new and untested.

Righteousness is understood in parts of the Bible as a state of moral perfection essential for admission into the Kingdom of Heaven.

However, we cannot make ourselves righteous, nor can the courts, nor can a lifetime of good deeds and kind words in a good church.

Righteousness comes from God and God alone.  It's a gift.

Perhaps then, our calling in this present time is to create those right relationships with each other that in some time of his own choosing, God’s transforming spirit will enter our hearts anew … and make us whole