Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is this election about?

Since my name was put in nomination to be the Bishop of Texas, people have asked me a lot of questions about the issues of sexuality in the church. People have asked me questions about what age a bishop should be. Some people have talked about what it means that there is a woman who is a nominee. Still others have talked about the titles and jobs the nominees have had.

I have answered these questions. The truth is, these are nothing new. These are the same issues we have been talking about for the last four episcopal elections. I imagine people have talked about these issues for decades. If we as a diocese continue to focus solely on issues during this episcopal election the chances are good that the same conversation will come up in ten or so years when the next election cycle comes around.

It is time that we took the spotlight off the same old issues and focus instead on where God is leading us; only then will we have clarity about who we are to elect.

I believe God is leading us to ask a different set of questions. How will we spread the gospel in a radically changing culture? How do we hold the tension of being a Church that both respects our heritage and reaches out to strangers who are searching for deep meaning in their lives? How will we repent of the unconscious racism in our congregations and reach out to people who expect a church that is as multicultural as their workplace? What does leadership look like in the future? How do we use power in our diocese? How do we elect missionary bishops that benefit the mission of our church?

We need a bishop that will inspire us all to answer God's questions.

In order to find real answers we need a collaborative and visionary leader who will help us redirect our energy in ways that will not only transform us but will ultimatly transform the culture around us. It is going to take hope and energy and change.

The reality is that the people who are hungry for truth and transformation --- who are hungry to hear that God cares for them and Jesus loves them --- are not asking questions about the old issues on which we focus. They are hoping that we are following God's lead in finding answers to questions that matter on the deepest level. They want to know that the Diocese of Texas is a different place filled with different kind of congregations. They are hoping that when they enter our doors they will have a life changing experience. That's the experience that they deeply, desperately need.

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  • "Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; not a philosophy of life, but a life and a living process." Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer." Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • "Perfection, in a Christian sense, means becoming mature enough to give ourselves to others." Kathleen Norris
  • "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." John Wesley
  • "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton
  • "One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans." C. S. Lewis
  • "When we say, 'I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,' we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the church seldom asks us for forgiveness." Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey
  • "Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." Bono
  • "It's too easy to get caught in our little church subcultures, and the result is that the only younger people we might know are Christians who are already inside the church." Dan Kimball