Monday, May 28, 2007

Of Thresholds and Welcomes

Fr. Jake's blog always makes me think. A prime example is his latest post, discussing a book by Sara Miles entitled Take This Bread. While this is obviously yet one more book that I need to add to my "to read" stack (and actually get to reading it!), it also brings to mind a tension in my own life which challenges me. Sara's initial moment of conversion was when she received the Eucharist at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, California. Having grown up in the Diocese of California, I know St. Gregory's is a decidedly non-traditional Episcopal church. However, the non-traditional part of this story for me was that Sara was both offered and received the Eucharist prior to being baptized, which is both a rubrical and canonical no-no in the Episcopal Church. Not that it isn't done, it just isn't supposed to be done! Yet, this non-rubrical, non-canonical reception of the Eucharist was the occasion for a person's conversion.

Now I'm not planning on sparking a conversation about who should and should not receive the Eucharist (unless someone would like to do so). However, the tension this brings up in me is that I am, by personality, a rule-keeper. I don't generally break the rules and am acutely uncomfortable in the current ecclesiastical environment where some people and congregations seem to think they can do their own thing in a whole variety of areas (ecclesiastical, theological, liturgical, etc...) and yet remain part of the Body of Christ. On the other hand, I'm living, preaching, and pastoring in a church with many, many rules and lots of people who seem to like the letter of the law far better than the spirit of Christ. I guess the question for me is, how can we maintain some sort of identity, some sort of boundaries, and yet make those boundaries porous enough that they don't become high walls that close people out?

I want the church to be a place of conversation. I want the Eucharist to be an instrument of conversion. I also want Baptism to matter and the basic creeds and formularies of our faith to mean something and not just be window dressing or frosting on the cake. Perhaps I'm both too ancient and too future and uncomfortable with both!

2 comments:

The Ranter said...

so you get your information from a priest who brags about being a heretic? very nice...

Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

No, not ALL my information. I think your response was precisely what my post was about--how do we leave room for God's unexpected inbreaking while also maintaining our identity and boundaries. After all, heresy is defined by the church...