Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sacrifice and Stewardship

One of the many privileges that I enjoyed through my attendance at General Convention this past summer was the opportunity to attend the daily Eucharist with my felolow attendees, to hear and sing wonderful and diverse music, and especially to hear some outstanding preachers--including both our Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, one of the most impressive preachers was not a clergyperson at all, but a layman--Ray Suarez (of Newshour fame). At General Convention he preached a sermon which could best be summarized as "we should not apologize for who we are as Episcopalians!"

Once again, Mr. Suarez steps to the microphone, stands behind a pulpit, and delivers words that we need to hear:

After talking very much about the world we live in and the legacy we have inherited, Suarez ends with this: "...all that we have is gift. The question now is: What will you do with your share?"

As the economy slowly and painfully recovers and as the spirit of fear and doubt continues to pleague both church and world, it might be a good spiritual exercise to think about what God would have us do with "our share" of the gifts God has given to us. Do we use them as a buffer against possible calamity, an insulator against a cold breeze, or do we offer them freely to others as God has freely to us? Something to think about...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Migration, Mission...and Ninjas?

Well, last Sunday was my first at St. Edward's, San Jose and it seems like a good start. Just getting used to a new and much bigger worship space was a challenge for me but, as I said "no one got hurt." It is a joy to see folks with such a great attitude in the face of all that they have been through. It is pretty new to me to be personally involved in the fallout from folks departing the Episcopal Church for Anglican splinter groups, but that is where I've ended up by being here. Part and parcel of that is my increased awareness of, and rumination on, what is distinctive about the Episcopal Church alongside other churches. One answer to this is the Around One Table initiative to facilitate the discussion of identity. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the folks at King of Peace in Kingsland, GA (where my friend Frank Logue serves) have come up with an answer (and then revised it)...Episconinjas:

I think that the video describes things pretty well--though it focuses on social service and hits the liturgical richness of our tradition pretty lightly. However, social service is much more likely to be attractive to the non-churched than a description of our worship, at least at first. Well done!

At the same time as the above video has been spreading across the Internet like wildfire, news that the Roman Catholic Church is providing a "home to traditional Anglicans" (to use one headline), making it easier for disaffected Anglicans and Episcopalians to move to the Roman Catholic Church. There has been a huge amount of reaction to this announcement, which I will not attempt to summarize here. My own reaction is that God really doesn't care what flavor of Christianity the disciples of Jesus Christ follow. We will not be carrying our denominational labels into eternity with us. For that reason, I'm perfectly happy to see any development that will allow those who are genuinely feeling estranged from their current denomination, and thus perhaps hobbled in their ability to fully live into their identities as followers of Jesus, to find a place where they believe they can more fully live out their God-calling. I couldn't move to the Roman Catholic Church myself (for both personal and professional reasons), but if that is where folks are feeling called, Godspeed and blessings on their journey.

As for me and this congregation--9 a.m. every Sunday, alternating Rite I and Rite II, standard Episcopal fare. Come one, come all!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Pastor, Packer, and Painter

This morning, I presided at my final Eucharist at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Albany, Oregon. This afternoon, I led a service of the Blessing of the Animals commemorating St. Francis of Assisi. That service was my final liturgical act at St. Alban's. I have said many goodbyes, and will say many more this week, but for now both mind and body turn towards preparation. I must pack my office and ship books and papers to my new office at St. Edward's Episcopal Church in San Jose, California. I must complete the packing of our house into our moving POD. I must repaint some rooms at my house and prepare it for sale. I must do all of this, with a little help, in the next several days before I leave Albany on Thursday.

For that reason, this will not be a long post and you will not see more posts from me until at least my first Sunday at St. Edwards, October 18. Until then, I am officially in transition!