Reports of Gene Robinson at the Greenbelt Festival:
Solo Bass Steve liveblogged his sermon:
Gene is Bishop of New Hampshire, and I’ve really enjoyed all the writing of his that I’ve read. I’m really pleased he’s here at the festival.
Intro by Martin Wroe: there’ll be loads of time for questions at the end. “Rumour has it that bits of the church are upset that a Bishop can be called Gene – some people don’t think Bishops should have girl’s names” (laughter, followed by massive applause for Gene.)
Gene starts by praying – standard form for a Bishop
“I’d rather you thought of this as a conversation, what I’m going to say is my own experience. Your’s will be different, and your own. All we have is our own story. We get in trouble when we tell people what their story should be.”
Gene’s Story – how to stay calm in the eye of the storm. The storm in question is when Gene was put forward for ordination, and a load of lies were written about him being involved in porn etc.
“my spiritual director told me I talk to much in my prayers. Also made me aware of the possibility of impersonating God’s voice, to get the answers I want. I was encouraged to do nothing, but just imagine being a child of God, being loved, and feeling that love as warmth. Just allow yourself to be loved, let God do what God does best”.
God want to love. all of us. And wants us to love the rest of us. We live our lives with a line drawn around us, separating us from them. What God wants for us is to draw the line ever-further away, until there is no ‘them’ only us. The christian life calls us to treat our enemies like that. to never allow ourselves to treat them as a child of God, no matter how much I disagree with them.
“Our job is to be continually be reaching out to those who’ve been marginalised, disrespected, abused, disregarded, vilified. God is not there to make it easy, but will be with you. There’s no greater reward than that” (massive applause).
[Steve's note] – Gene talks the language of a bishop, but he brings a message that has its roots as much in the experience and history of Ghandi, MLK, Wilberforce etc… The call within the God-stuff for respect to be extended to those we hate, for dialogue to continue, for acceptance, respect, grace, is SO vital, so important, for all of us, believers, or not, sceptics, doubters, atheists… He’s a pretty radical voice, but one with a soft tone, and an amazing gentle soul. It’s been a privilege to listen to him.
More here and here with photos of the line waiting to hear Gene.