A hurricane is coming – I’ve just chatted on Skype with Jackie over at StandFirm who is preparing to evacuate if the storm continues on its present path. That’s what people do when a storm of such magnitude sets its eye on them – they seek shelter elsewhere, often with friends who open their doors and their homes to the refugees.
Watching the coverage on television (which we can do now that we can watch any television station that is live on the internet) reminds me of all the plans and preparations that are needed when a storm is coming. One of the first and primary things the officials do – and are doing right now – is to give accurate information and to convince people that it is serious. Very serious. It takes trust and experience and wisdom to believe what we’re told and to take action. This is especially true in New Orleans where there is a “hurricane fatigue” that is very real and very present. Some have packed up as soon as the first warnings went up, others – remembering how hard it was to come home after the evacuation – are less inclined to pack up until they must. But there is a weariness, a sense of questioning why one needs to leave their home and why can’t they be protected where they are?
A hurricane is coming – it has been blowing across the Anglican Communion for years and we are being warned that unless we admit that it’s upon us, we we will be blown away. There will be no Communion, only a scattering of tribes like the tribes of Israel.
Rowan Williams took a huge hit at Lambeth, make no mistake about it. He alienated a constituency that thought he was all wrapped up. He may have buyers remorse later (we’ll see), but his final presidential address laid his cards on the table in such a way that it is causing heads to spin on this side of the Atlantic.
He issued a warning.
The Church of the Sudan shocked the Lambeth Conference and issued a warning that all but caused the progressive TEC activists outside the gates to fold up their tents and go home.
The Global South Bishops at Lambeth also issued their warning, saying “We gather at a critical time when the Anglican Communion as a communion of ordered churches is at the probable brink of collapse.”
Note how quiet the leaders of GAFCON/FCA and the leaders of the Lambeth Conference are right now – very quiet. “Be still and know that I am God,” we are reminded in the scriptures. We are making progress when we have a quiet confidence – not a proud one or an enraged one or a frustrated one or a boisterous one – but a quiet confidence. Where is our confidence?
Are they heeding the warnings or buttoning down the hatches, as though a hurricane can just blow on by?
The fact remains that Rowan Williams called a Primates Meeting. And that announcement infuriated TEC leaders present at Lambeth – and with reason. The Primates meeting is made up FCA, Lambeth, and TEC alliances. They will all meet together and they carry, thanks to Rowan Williams catholic bearing, authority.
Yes, there are Rumors of Indaba for the Primates when they gather. But the bishops are quite “indabaed-out” right now – now is not the time to talk about the warnings, anymore than they are merely talking about warnings in the Gulf. There are no indaba groups meeting in New Orleans tonight.
Now is the time to put an action-plan in place. The storm is coming.
What is before us is the difference between the preparations for Katrina three years ago and the preparations for Gustav today. What have we learned? Which way will the Primates choose?
The next six months preparing for that Primates meeting are crucial and it’s no accident that many are feeling fatigue at the ongoing crisis. Many carry battle scars and more battles are on the way – perhaps some of the most signficant as we turn our eyes to the court room.
Yet is often battle-fatigue that causes many to begin to negotiate – and as we saw at Lambeth, for some influential TEC bishops, the word negotiate is a dirty word. But negotiate we must and negotiate we will, for negotiate is another word for making plans and solving problems.
Remember, it is the meek who inherit the earth.
And it is the meek who take heed of the warnings and act.