The Lambeth Conference is now well underway--though still in the 'retreat' phase--as is my vacation--though not yet in the 'retreat' phase. I've got some down time on my hands before dinner plans materialize, so here I am in my daughter's apartment in the Atlanta area skimming the avalanche of news and blogs emanating from Kentish regions. Rumors are already flying, but there's nothing yet to get worked up about, in my not-necessarily-humble opinion.
As I try to get in touch with my own expectations, hopes, and wishes about Lambeth, I'm aware of the necessity of maintaining precisely those distinctions--expectations, hopes, and wishes.
What do I expect? I expect, at the very least, that the Archbishop's Indaba groups will indeed have the desired and intended effect of strengthening the bonds of affection and respect among bishops of the Communion. This would be a good thing. Not a sufficiently good thing, one might argue, given the imperiled state of Anglicanland, but, nontheless, in itself a good thing. It will do no harm, and may plant the sort of seeds that can yeild unexpectedly fruitful harvests at time and under circimstances that we cannot presently imagine.
What do I hope for? A hope is more ephemeral than an expectation but more substantive than a wish. I believe that there is reason for hope that the bishops will give the Anglican Covenant development process a steroid shot, and that the process will continue with renewed energy. I have always advocated an organic resolution to our afflictions, and a Covenant is in my opinion (once again, not so humble) the most salutary route to that destination. I am saddened but not surprised, by the GAFCON response, just made available to day, to the St Andrew's Draft. I agree with those critics who remind us of the need to address the present crisis, but I respectfully take issue with their contention that the St Andrew's Draft fails to do so. Perhaps the Appendix needs to be given some more heft in some way, but the tools are all there. For precisely this reason, the response of the great majority of Episcopal dioceses that have responded (Northern Indiana being a notable exception) has been overwhelmingly negative. What are they seeing (and not liking) that our GAFCON friends are missing? At any rate, I have hope that the bishops assembled at Lambeth 2008 will turn up the flame under the Covenant process.
What do I wish for? Now we're into more nebulous territory, but a wish left unarticulated will almost certainly be a wish left unfulfilled. What I wish for is that the bishops read and take to heart the open letter from the Reverend Dr Ephraim Radner. This is would be the best news possible for Anglicans, for other Christians , and even for Episcopalians, though it is medicine that many among us will find bitter to the taste. We would find, in time, however, that it is sweet to the stomach. Of course, this is not something I am either expecting or hoping for. It would require a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit. Veni, sanctae spiritus.