Tuesday 6th June, 2000

I have not made an entry into this journal for a few days. Tomorrow I have my first interview with the Marriage Tribunal. I am both eager for this to happen and also fearful.

I have not been able to resist talking to people about my crisis. I have had an incredible need to talk about it. So, in the past week, I have talked to the following people:

NG: I met with N for lunch on Friday. He has asked me to be his marriage celebrant. I told him because I felt he ought to know that I may not be a Lutheran pastor for much longer. His reaction was a bit along the lines of “golly!”.

Fr D: D asked me to have coffee with him after the Faith and Order meeting on Friday afternoon. We had a long discussion together, going over many of the same issues again. Again he said to me that he is fearful for me. He described himself as “a happy Catholic”. I long to be a “happy Catholic” too...

Pastor V: Well, actually I didn’t tell V, but he said to me (on the phone) that he had written to his “liberal clergy uncles” to say that they should realise there are a number of pastors in the LCA who would go over to Rome if the LCA ordained women. I said “Who?” and he replied: “Well, myself for one, and your friend P., and probably Marco*, and well, I guess, you too.” And I said to him, “Yes, but don’t you realise that I would never be able to receive communion in the Catholic Church because I am divorced and remarried?” No. It hadn’t occurred to him.

*[see Fr Marco’s blog “Heretics Anonymous” to find out what happened to him!]

And I wish I could put J [a seminary lecturer and mentor] on this list. Actually, I got a little excited when I learned that next week we have Australian Consultation on Liturgy meetings, and I thought “Yippee! J will be coming over, I can invite him to stay and we can talk this out at leisure.” But then I found out that he is on long service leave and won’t be back on deck until Synod...

So, tonight, on the way to a meeting at the Casey congregation, I talked to DB. I didn’t intend to really at first, but we were talking about the parish and all its problems, and I said, “Well, I don’t think I will have to worry about it much longer.” and he said: “Why? Because you’re going to Rome?” and I said: “Yes. If I can.”

And then I spilled the whole story to him. If I take both the journey there and the journey home, and the half hour we spent talking out in his car, I must say that next to P, talking to D was the best thing I have done yet. His insight—his logical, clear thinking—was wonderful. He put the finger on the nub when he said as we were arriving at the meeting: “Well, you must ask yourself whether, having even gone this far, you can still continue as a Lutheran pastor, or whether you should resign.” And in one sense he was right—I am already experiencing great difficulties in functioning in my pastoral role. On the way home, though, as we explored the ways of God in allowing me to consider this question just when this hurdle had to be crossed, we wondered if, out of all of it, I might not emerge even more Lutheran than when I went into the issue.

There were very many aspects to our conversation. Yet the one thing that was not there was condemnation. D understood entirely. He said that his own leanings were toward Constantinople (mind you, I challenged him on this one), but he understood my decision and sympathised. He did not question my Lutheran-ness—we even discussed the fact that it is possible to be a Lutheran in the Roman Catholic Church, but not possible to be a Catholic in the Lutheran Church.

Tonight I am afraid. I have been singing the Pentecost sequence to comfort myself:

“Holy Spirit, come we pray,
send from heaven your inward ray,
and brighten darkness into day.

Come now, Father of the poor,
come now, source of all our store,
light up our hearts for evermore.

Of all comforters, the best
is the soul’s sweet, heavenly guest;
so come, and let us be refreshed.

In all labour, be our rest,
be our comfort in distress,
and strengthen us in every test.

Light immortal, fire divine,
fill our hearts and in us shine;
and claim your people for all time.

Grant us virtue’s full increase,
grant us safe and sweet release,
and grant us everlasting peace.”

Amen, Lord, so be it.

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