Sunday, December 6, 2009


By the Reverend Canon Susan Russell, Chair of the Program Group on LGBT Ministry, Diocese of Los Angeles and immediate past president, Integrity USA

On Sunday, December 6th while the rest of us were lighting the second candle on the Advent wreath, the Archbishop of Canterbury was fanning the flames of homophobia.

The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion -- who has not yet managed to join church and human rights leaders around the globe in speaking out against the legislation pending that would kill people for being gay -- lost no time in issuing a statement that threatened the American Episcopal Church if we don’t kill the election of a gay bishop.

No wonder the church he leads is widely experienced as being utterly irrelevant. .

No wonder the communion he is so worried about is coming apart at the seams. .

No wonder Jesus wept.

We know that Jesus wept at the news of the death of his friend Lazarus. And I believe Jesus weeps today at the death of the great experiment of Anglican comprehensiveness that has been for four hundred years a bright beacon of what is and can be possible in living out the gospel in the world.

But even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. For we know that the end of the Lazarus story is not one of death but of a new chance at life. And we know that our Redeemer not only lives, but that He calls for all of us to “come out” of the darkness of those things that blind us to the light of Christ present in each and every member of God’s beloved human family.

I believe Jesus stands now at the opening of the tomb the Archbishop of Canterbury has chosen to seal himself into and is calling to him the same way he called to Lazarus.

"Rowan, Come out!" Come out and join those who claim in this Advent season of both endings and beginnings the end of patriarchy and homophobia as we celebrate the beginning of new opportunities to proclaim the inclusive love of God to a world starving to hear it. To receive it. To be healed by it. To be transformed by it.

There is a crowd standing around the opening of that tomb just waiting. Waiting to hear Jesus speak again the words he said to his beloved Lazarus to our beloved Communion: “Unbind it. Set it free.” We are ready, willing and able to loosen the ties labeled ‘sexism, racism and homophobia’ – liberating our Anglican family of churches to claim authentic bonds of affection that will bind us together across our differences as a world wide communion of faith, love, compassion and justice.

It is never too late to do the right thing. It is not too late to claim the Advent promise Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called “more hope than the world thinks is reasonable.”


Join us in the Diocese of Los Angeles, Archbishop Rowan, in lighting another candle for Advent. And partner with us as we work to extinguish – not fan – the flames of homophobia.

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