Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Advent Message: "Singing Songs of Expectation"

by Susan Russell

While not officially an Advent hymn, "Singing Songs of Expectation" is on my list of Top Ten Hymns to Hum Through Advent.

It's not just the lilting melody I like -- it's the sense of hope and expectation of good things ahead even as we slog through the work that needs to be done to arrive at last at the realized hope of love incarnate in the Christmas miracle.

And in some ways it feels to me this year as if Advent might be more than just the season leading up to Christmas.

It feels to me that our whole church ... this Episcopal Church ... has been on kind of an Advent journey over these last few decades as we've been been singing songs of expectation toward the not-yet-fully-realized hope of a church where all the baptized are finally fully included in all the sacraments.

We're not there yet. Nobody who reads this blog or follows the church news or participates in the challenge and opportunity to "Believe Out Loud" doesn't know that. There's still a lot of important work to be done.

And some of that work is being done in response to the resolution passed at our last General Convention -- C056 -- calling for "an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships." I am honored to be co-chairing one of the task forces implementing that resolution and we are working very hard to make that "open process" part not just a resolution but a reality.

Toward that end, we issued a survey inviting members of The Episcopal Church to inform us about resources that are or have already been used in a congregational discernment process to welcome same-gender blessings and to prepare couples for a Christian life together and for a blessing ceremony.

We received over 900 responses to the survey. The deadline for responding is approaching -- St. Thomas Day 2010 (December 21) – so we are sending out "on last ask" this week to take that few minutes and click here to give us the feedback that will help us inform the work we will do toward General Convention 2012.

Finally, we have not yet received responses from the following dioceses:

Colombia; Easton; Ecuador - Central; Ecuador - Litoral; Haiti; Honduras; Long Island; Navajoland; Nevada; North Dakota; Northwest Texas; Taiwan; Venezuela; Virgin Islands; West Virginia; Western Kansas; Western Louisiana.
So if you have friends or colleagues in any of these dioceses, please encourage them to submit their response. The survey is also available in Spanish here ... or "aqui."

Implementing C056 is not our destination -- the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments is. But it's an important step along the way ... it's a "song of expectation" we are singing toward that final goal ... and it's work I hope you will keep in your prayers as we journey together forward into God's future.

God bless -- thank you -- and HAPPY ADVENT!!

The Reverend Canon Susan Russell is a past president of Integrity, the Chair of the Program Group on LGBT Ministry in the Diocese of Los Angeles and a Co-Chair of the SCLM Task Force on Pastoral Care & Teaching Resources.

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