While Bishop Stokes is on vacation this week, guest contributor The Rev. Canon Joanne Izzo, Interim Canon to the Ordinary and Transitions Officer, fills in with “Bishop’s Corner.”
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sin”—1 Peter 4:8
The programme image for Lambeth 2022—a gathering of bishops from across the Anglican Communion—visually lays out the areas that will form the general content of the conference. Moving outward from the center, our little “island home” with the reference to 1 Peter layered over it, sets the behavioral norms. The Five Marks of Mission, or as I think of them, the five holy habits, are listed as practices. The next circle is a reminder of purpose: God’s church for God’s world. This sends us back to the center and then outward as we try to unpack what it means to be God’s church for God’s world today.
Throughout the week, the bishops and archbishops will be studying the First Letter of Peter. The letter was chosen with care and intention. A number of the areas of concern identified in the image either open with a verse or reference from this letter. Why this letter at this time? This letter was written to Christian communities in five Roman Provinces. The audience or recipients of this letter are referred to as exiles, aliens, those in the diaspora. The main theme of the letter is Hope. The purpose is to encourage, console, and clarify that birth into a new life in Christ is a call to live a life that is so visibly different from the society in which they live that the larger society cannot help but notice. One might say the implicit question of the Lambeth conference might be: Are we manifesting our new birth into a living hope in the world today? (1 Peter 1:3)
Reading the program of activities, time table, and reviewing the ten key areas that will be the focus of keynote addresses and Calls (conversations among the bishops behind closed doors on these areas) can be daunting, disappointing, or disheartening. How can we too Walk, Listen, and Witness over these next days in our congregations? Let me get the conversation started and perhaps you might be inspired with ideas that make sense to you in your community.
For starters, I noticed that the more I stared at the logo the more it reminded me of a mandala. What an interesting spiritual process it could be if some gathered prayerfully and lovingly in silence and as a community and created a mandala while the conference was in progress. For our Anglo-Catholic siblings, particularly devoted to Our Lady of Walsingham, perhaps a rosary? For the walkers how about a prayer walk? For those who love candles, meditation and a Taize vigil one evening? Perhaps some charismatic Episcopalians might gather for songs of praise? Perhaps the members of the Order of St. Luke might create a service of healing of relationships and divisions within the communion? For those who maybe are a bit more curious about 1 Peter why not gather as a group and dwell in the Word? Perhaps hold a forum via zoom or in person on one of the areas of interest to you.
By now you get my point: We can all find a way to send God’s Love to Lambeth, grow together as a community, and deepen the bonds of unity, because that is what living stones do as God’s church for God’s world.