Living together with difference is the hardest thing for any group of people to do. The Windsor Report asks Anglicans world-wide to hush their noisesome strife and ‘make space’ for one another so that each may dare to see and be seen, and to hear and be heard more truly. It asks those who feel most discomforted by the differences threatening to drive members apart to acknowledge their opponents’ distress, to feel it with them, and to show this by openly speaking words of regret. This little bit of ‘making space’ of ‘fellow feeling’ born of recognising the other as brother/sister in Christ is the beginning. It requires courage, trust and the willingness to believe the best of the other. And this can only be done when each sees the other ‘in Christ’ – equally welcomed, equally flawed, equally dependent on the One from whom and in whom all life has its beginning and its end.
The members of the Eames Commisssion, have seen one another ‘in Christ’ At the outset, when the names of those who had been appointed were made known, the chairman Robin Eames owned that he wondered how on earth they were going to be able to work together. The Report reveals that they have indeed succeeded. Arguably, this more than the Recommendations themselves, offers the Communion the hope it needs for the future. Not only have the members of the Commission shown that ‘making space’ for the other is needed, but they have demonstrated that it is indeed possible.
To many, particularly those outside the Church, what has been offered may appear derisory and, to some, fatuous. To others the Report will appear a betrayal of truth or of justice for there are those on both sides who feel alienated by what it does not say. But is there any alternative to the painstaking, self-giving, vulnerable work proposed? For the work is familiar. It belongs to the work of Christ who, in utter vulnerability, pursued that same costly road, dying in weakness to be raised in strength. The choice is there for each one who would follow: cling to the identity you now know or move on in faith to what is yet to be.