Attending St. Alban's Chatham again
On the eve of attending St. Alban's Chatham for the second time, I thought I'd record my thoughts for posterity.
Groucho Marx once stated: PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT ME AS A MEMBER. To some extent, I sympathise with this view.
I feel deeply confused and conflicted at the moment; as if I am a wish-bone with God pulling on one end and Satan pulling on the other. The experience is somewhat uncomfortable, especially where the two sides join.
I have read His Holiness Pope Shenouda III's words about homosexuals and homosexuality, and feel that from a spiritual perspective he is very probably taking the correct stand. However, from the point of view of someone affected by these issues, it is rather more complicated. How can I love myself if I identify myself with that which is intrinsically evil? To people who are not homosexual, it seems as though people like me are making a lot of fuss about something which is simply sin. The reality of self-identity is rather more complex and painful, whatever ideologues on both sides of the debate would have you believe.
I strongly believe that the Church should not accept practising homosexuals as members under any circumstances. Light is light, and darkness is darkness. His Holiness Pope Shenouda III outlines two stages of repentance: firstly of deed, and secondly of thought. I have not really started along either stretch of this particular path, and I appear at the moment to have little intention of so doing, however much I pray or agonise over it.
I have no intention of deceiving anybody. I am not prepared to lie or utter half-truths in the Sacrament of Absolution. I want to be entirely straight (no irony intended) with God and the Church.
Fortunately, my experience and understanding of the British Orthodox Church is that it is not interested in playing the numbers game or "bums on seats" at any price. It is in the business of helping people discern where God would have them be, and helping them on their pilgrimage.
Although I still feel that God is calling me to be a member of the Church, He did not specify a time-frame! Repentance may be a long process. If it is years before I become a member in all conscience and honesty, then so be it.
I am very grateful for the kindness and generosity of Peter Theodore Farrington and Father Michael Robson in particular, and for their practical and spiritual support. It is certainly more than I ever hoped or expected.
That's all I wanted to write.