October 8, 2008

Christian Unity

A friend of mine has systematically been reading my poetry on Lionel Deimel’s Farrago. Her comments on one poem inspired my rereading a few of my older poems myself. I was particularly struck by “Christian Unity.” I’ve always liked this poem, but I had forgotten exactly when I wrote it.

“Christian Unity” was written at the end of the summer of 2002, just after Resolution #1, the so-called South Carolina Resolution, had been introduced for consideration at Pittsburgh’s November diocesan convention. The resolution was a kind of conservative shot across the bow of General Convention 2003, and its introduction was the event that led eventually to the founding of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.

You can read the original Resolution #1 here. The text alarmed moderates and liberals in the diocese, and there were attempts to modify the resolution so as to make it less objectionable. From a centrist perspective, this was only so successful. The resolution as passed can be read here, which also includes the final, rather lopsided, vote tally. Here is an excerpt:
We affirm that in God’s love for all people, the only sexually intimate relationships receiving His blessing in Scripture and Tradition are those of a man and a woman within an intended life-long, faithful, marital covenant. The Church cannot bless any other sexual relationship, and we cannot recognize the blessing of any other.
When I wrote the poem, I had no idea that such bitter times were ahead for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The poem is irenic and perhaps even evangelical. At least as far as the Pittsburgh diocese is concerned, however, it may have been naïve. Ironically, both the initial and final versions of the resolution expressed a commitment to The Episcopal Church. Many of the people who voted for this resolution also voted last weekend to leave The Episcopal Church.

My poem is reproduced below.
Christian Unity
by Lionel Deimel

Around the table gathered, we
Are one in sweet community,
For Christ has ransomed one and all
Who answer to his loving call.

We worship God in many ways;
We celebrate on different days;
But Jesus is the guiding star
For Christians near and Christians far.

God’s plan for us is seldom clear;
We may a different drummer hear;
Yet, if we study and we pray,
The kingdom will be ours some day.

So let us vow to never fight
About who’s wrong and who is right
Concerning truths we cannot know
That turn our Christian friend to foe.

And let our worship fit our needs;
Let us unite in Christian deeds;
May we God’s love and mercy show
To those who don’t the Savior know.

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