Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bishop Gene speaks


"As I began to preach, this youngish man with long hair and long sideburns, carrying a motorcycle helmet, stood and began to point his finger at me and scream, "Heretic! Repent!"

It was a surreal moment. Of course we knew that something like this might happen. But you can't really adequately prepare for the reality of it.

My first, fleeting thought was, "What's going to happen next? Is he carrying something in that helmet? Is this going to be more than angry words?" But almost immediately, I found myself profoundly sorry for this young man. After he had been removed, and the hymn ended (the congregation had sung a hymn to drown out his shouting), when I asked the congregation to "pray for that man," I was nearly overwhelmed with sadness. All I could think about was that place in his heart which must be filled with such darkness, a place that was meant to be filled with love, but because of whatever had happened in his life, whoever he has been associating with, it was filled with hate. Someone had to TEACH him to hate like that. He didn't learn it on his own. For a moment or two, I was nearly overwhelmed by my sense of sadness for him. The tears in my eyes and the crack in my voice were for this child of God who, I suspect, has experienced so much pain and unhappiness in his life."

Comment: And we learn real humility from this man. Already the Lambeth Conference is having its agenda set by Bishop Gene.

How disturbing to consider that we Christians are teaching each other to hate. Disturbing but true. The heckler demanded repentance. We should all repent for the circumstances which led him to his outburst because in some small way we have each contributed to the climate of hatred.