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Hallo again to all, on this third Sunday of Advent.

We've all heard the arguments and statements about the church and sexuality in the last half year. Regardless of your opinions about who is right or wrong or about what is right or wrong, you are surely aware that there are deep disagreements among the faithful as to how best to follow Jesus' teachings, God's will, and the Holy Spirit.

It seems inevitable that there will be some sort of organizational division, schism, or separation within our communion. As long as we are separated not from God but merely from each other, it will likely not have a huge impact on the future of humankind nor is it likely to condemn vast numbers of people to hell. But global changes that seem distant and ideological can sometimes have local consequences that are direct and personal. If a province takes a rigid stand, and there is a diocese within it whose leaders disagree with that stand, what is that diocese to do? If a diocese takes a rigid stand, and there is a parish within it whose members disagree, what is that parish to do? And, if a parish takes a rigid stand, and some of its parishioners disagree, what are they to do?

This turmoil will, as surely as night follows day, trickle down to individual members of individual parishes who feel that they must make a change. If a congregation can somehow find a via media, its members can stay, if perhaps with some unease. If the congregation or its leader takes a rigid stand, then unless that rigidity is unanimous, some will decide that they need to worship elsewhere.

If you live in a place that has several Anglican churches within a moderate distance of your home, then finding a new parish is possible, if terribly jarring and upsetting. But if you live where Anglican churches are few and far between, there is no new parish to find. It doesn't really matter about the details of the disagreement. It's the individual parishioner or family that will need to do the moving.

Overzealous participants have sometimes referred to a war in the church. In comparison with real wars, in which thousands of people are killed or displaced, this little church feud is just an inconvenience, a little blip on history. But those hurt by it are, like casualties in a real war, ordinary people.

War is always political, often global, and hard to describe or communicate to those who have not been involved in one. Most of the really memorable photographs portraying wars have shown the grief of individuals, whether Robert Capa's shots of D-Day, David Duncan's images of exhausted Marines in Korea, Malcolm Browne's photographs of burning monks in Vietnam, Nick Ut's picture of the burning napalmed girl, or James Nachtwey's memorable pictures of victims in Rwanda.

Since no one is dying or suffering visible injury, there will be no prize-winning photographs of the victims of a 'war' within the church. Save for extreme cases in countries where the very act of being Christian is dangerous, we will all live through this. But people, individually, will suffer nonetheless, each acting according to his or her faith, convictions, and beliefs. Do pray for all of them. For all of us.

See you next week.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 14 Dec 2003

A thin blue line
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