Episcopal Life: (-)+Frank Griswold Says Goodbye
Every month or so--less often if I do not inform the Episcopal Church Center in New York that I am at sea, or if they forward the newspaper to the wrong ocean, or if whiskey is somehow spilled on it--Episcopal Life delivers a good snapshot of the state of things in the Church. The column by the Presiding Bishop is always noteworthy for its pastoral and theological reflections. This month, the issue arrived somewhat late as it had been rerouted rather tardily from our last position in the Bay of Fundy.
In the understandably great clamor of the investiture of our new Presiding Bishop, accompanied by the interest in her historic role, there has been some degree of oversight to the gifts and role played by our now former Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold.
In his last, farewell column for Episcopal Life, "Encountered by the Word," we are again reminded of the man's great generosity of heart, mind and spirit. He steered the Church with a vision of enlargement and a constant striving towards Christ, that was admirable.
His last column notes:
"What most stands out as I look back is a sense of gratitude for how we as a community of faith have struggled to discern the mind and heart of Christ. Though this season has been far from easy, it has brought with it learnings and affirmations.
One of these is that discernment only can be accomplished when we are deeply grounded and available to God's unfolding purposes. Essential to our grounding is a radical availability to Christ who is God's Word. We must be truly rooted in the one who declares himself the Way, the Truth and the Life."
It is this "radical availability" to the Word that is quite difficult for some Episcopalians, other Anglicans around the Communion, the Church catholic, and in fact, whole other parts of the Body of Christ. Indeed, not being "radically available" to Christ is often the state of affairs in each and every one of us, for various reasons.
Be that as it may, The Episcopal Church, as Dr. Peter Jensen of Sydney Diocese has noted, and as Bishop Griswold reminds us in his column, has assumed a missionary stance on this issue of radical availability. It has applied this principle on a corporate basis in a fundamental way. In one of its most striking manifestations, it has made room for everyone at the Lord's table, and urges them to come forward and take the spot in Christ, that is waiting for them.
This encouragement and yearning for others, may not come without cost or pain, but this is very much beside the point. The point is to realize that baptism has revealed to us "that our lives are inextricably bound up with another and that together we form one body, the body of the risen Christ."
It is words such as these that +Griswold has spoken again and again during his tenure. At the moment he passed his bishop's staff to ++Katharine, and she knocked with it on the National Cathedral doors to be admitted as Primate, it was clear that these words had passed into our Church as well.
Bishop Griswold's words are part of his gift to the Church. They are a gift that we must now take to the world as boldly and as surely as he brought them to us.