Friday, January 26, 2007

Timothy & Titus

Today is the lesser feast of Ss Timothy & Titus, Companions of St Paul. I have a special attachment Timothy. I spent the decade prior to seminary (1976-86) being formed by the wonderful community of St Timothy's Church in Salem, Oregon. I also have a brother, a nephew, and a dear friend, all named Timothy. St Timothy is mentioned several times in the Acts of the Apostles and in several of Paul's letters. Titus is a little more obscure, showing up mostly in the second epistle to the Corinthians. Both gentlemen, of course, are the recipients of letters from Paul (either genuine "late Paul" or pseudonymous, depending on who you talk to--I'll let the academics tussle over that) which became part of the New Testament canon of scripture.

As a professed High Churchman, I am constrained to pay due honor to the "institutional" tone of the epistles to Timothy. Unlike the earlier and undisputed letters (those to the Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Romans inter alia), which didn't emphasize church offices and institutional structures because it was thought that the return of Christ would happen any day, the later Pauline epistles take a longer view, and lay a foundation for a church that would survive beyond the generation then living--the church of scriptures, creeds, sacraments, orders of ministry, councils, and the like; in other words, the kinds of things Christians are still concerned with.

It is a meeting of bishops, one of the orders of ministry the roots of which can be found in I Timothy, that the eyes of the Anglican world are turning toward for the next three weeks or so. The big news for the last couple of days has been that the Bishop of Pittsburgh and the Bishop of Western Louisiana have been invited to represent constituencies in the Episcopal Church for whom the actual primate, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, cannot adequately speak. Moreover, it is not simply for a pre-meeting meeting, as was announced earlier, but to be on the agenda of the actual meeting itself. Speculation is rampant that, before everyone heads back to the Dar es Salaam airport, Bishop Jefferts Schori's status in the Primates' Meeting will have been degraded in some way, and that a more permanent place will have been made for Bishop Duncan or Bishop McPherson or someone like them.

At the same time, there is a leaked story all over cyberspace about a tense exchange between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council, Canon Kenneth Kearon. The good canon laments that he is not one of the Archbishop's "advisors." This is a big "hmmm."

Those on the port side of the Anglican ideological spectrum cannot be very happy about these latest developments, even as they have been complaining bitterly about nearly everything that happens on the international front. Things are not breaking their way presently. Trust me, I know how it feels.

Can orthodox Anglicans handle this much good news? We'd certainly like to try. Yet, I will repeat my earlier caution: The Tanzania meeting will disappoint those who are looking for absolute clarity immediately. There will be a step forward, but it will not be as conclusive as many are hoping.

Blessed Timothy and Titus, pray for us.

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