Sunday, July 20, 2008
Day Four--Sublime and ??
Today was a combination of the sublime and the, uh, well, not so sublime.
It began with a spectacular service, the likes of which I am sure I will never see again in this life. Several thousand people were packed into nearly every inch of Canterbury Cathedral for the opening Eucharist of the conference. It must have been the world's longest procession with 700 bishops,all in their red and white garb. Civic dignitaries and euchumenical representatives from around the world were also in attendance. There was a great sermon by a bishop of Sri Lanka, and of course the music was great. One highlight was the procession of the Gospel book in a canoe accompanied by Melanesian dancers.
I wish I could show you some video of this, but cameras were banned from the service, so you will have to settle for the offical photos. I urge you to see the slide show at the offical Lambeth conference site.http://www.lambethconference.org/photo_library/index.cfm More videos tomorrow!
After the service we bused back up the hill for a late lunch. Some of us walked back down the hill for an Integrity service that was held outdoors in a park. About 200 (including about 10 American Bishops) showed up to give support to Gene Robinson and Mark Andrew. It was very ironic that we sang a hymn in the cathedral about how the church shall be a house for ALL God's people--except of course, Gene, who is not allowed on campus.
It was then back up the hill for our first "serious" meeting of conference. It became clear to me that not everyone is feeling as optimistic as I was, and that this is going to be a lot harder than I first thought. The ABC and those working for him are strongly invested in the idea of a Covenant, which as it stands, looks to me like it could result in the expulsion of the American Church from the Communion, although I doubt this is what the ABC really wants. Anyway, I left that meeting feeling not quite so sunny as I did this morning.
Now it out for some Chinese food with some bishop friends. The food in the cafeteria is good, but we need a change!