What Camp taught me about Rules, the Great Commandment, and Priorities

There are few universal rules, especially at Camp. A person is running. Running can lead to falling—especially in a world of unpaved paths, gravel, roots, large rocks, and done in an often ungainly body. So we don’t run. Except when we do (some games and activities, and in the case of emergencies). So we can’t have the rule: “Don’t run.”

At Camp Marshall, where I have worked for most of the last 11 summers, we have four rules. Four. No lengthy index to sort through. No list of things appropriate at this time but not that time. No collection of waiting infractions.

Four rules:

Be prepared
Be on time
Respect yourself and others

As with many good things in my life, I didn’t create it. It was given to me, part of the great inheritance my predecessor and mentor bequeathed to me over a 15 year relationship. Now we have both boldly borrowed it from Barbara Coloroso’s work.*

It works in a Camp environment where there are kids and staff from different backgrounds, different parts of the state and the country. It works in a place replete with hazards (water, small cliffs, wildlife, kids**). It works with the youngest campers and the most experienced staff.

I have found a whole new appreciation for this philosophy. What we do, these four rules, isn’t about rules. It’s not a list of infractions waiting to happen. It’s a list of priorities for this community. We are most concerned about people’s desire to be here (be prepared), presence with others (be on time), engagement with others (participate), and care for themselves and others (respect). Everything we do rests on this ground.

And it works…when we use it.

All behavior has to be viewed through those four principles. Simple but not easy.

Running: a lack of self-respect much of the time, but not always.
Yelling: a lack of respect in a group, or a part of participation during an activity.
Hitting someone: a lack of respect for the other person.
Wearing tennis shoes: part of being prepared for some activities and lack of preparation for the waterfront.
Teasing each other: group bonding or a lack of respect for the subject of the ‘jokes?’
A staff miscommunication: simple—if problematic—error, a lack of preparation, or a lack of respect?

It is hard. There’s always the kid who insists that she feels respected when others talk (gossip) about her. The one who knows running isn’t a problem because he doesn’t mind scrapping his knee.

Working from the ground up takes longer and requires greater discernment. We can’t universally label things. We have to think. We have to take motives and perspectives into account. We have to listen. We have to talk. We have to be relational.

This listening, this talking, this discernment? This way of shaping community?
Makes all the difference.

– – – –

Jesus has three priorities.***

Love God.
Love yourself and your neighbor.
Don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

Three priorities all behavior and thought ought to spring from and be viewed through. Living in that truth requires discernment, listening, talking, considering motives and perspectives. Jesus’ three priorities, like most of Jesus’ ministry, are relational.

We are continuing this central work of Christianity. I know Christians who live the knowledge that sacrificing to love their neighbors is essential. I know Churches who work to devote most of their resources to loving their members and neighbors. I know Dioceses where every meeting includes a question like: How will what we do here benefit the poor? And I hear stories of how this has changed the whole culture.

At this last General Convention there was a proposal to require that very question of the entire Episcopal Church. I confess to voting against it. I was wrong. I have a new appreciation for how our communal life, its glories and mundanities, is understood differently through the lens of our greater purpose: to love God, ourselves, and our neighbors, while leaving room for the work of the Spirit.

It will never be easy.

We will continue to interpret even three priorities differently.
The brusque person who speaks to the soft-hearted neighbor. The visitor who sees genuine busyness as dismissal. The person who knows that individual, local efforts are better tailored to their neighbor’s needs and the person who is convinced that a larger social safety net is the best way to love their neighbors. The person who knows their abortion was necessary for their (and often their family’s) health and safety and the one who knows it was a sin against loving the unborn child.

This is more than not vilifying people who disagree. This is crawling inside their view and learning that it stems from the same priorities as our own.

Sometimes this solves problems. Most often when we reach for listening grounded in Jesus’ priorities we find ourselves at the table, breaking bread and drinking wine, with our brothers and sisters, regardless of our disagreements and agreements. Much like a Lord who dined with those called outcast and those considered prominent in society.

*I cannot recommend Ms. Coloroso’s book Kids are Worth It! strongly enough. Ms Coloroso’s approach to discipline is designed to leave everyone’s dignity intact. If you interact with people, this is something you must read. Her website [address and link] is a treasure trove (better phrase) of great resources.
**Only slightly joking. Any group of peers can be it’s own worst enemy. Fighting, rumors, scapegoating, cliques. There are so many ways for people to injure each other.
***Mark 12:29-31 and Mark 3:29
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Junior Middler Camp 2013

JM1This is the week I get to simultaneously wear my Priest hat and my Camp Director hat!

In large part because I’ve been the priest for this week of camp for 5 years now, I really wanted to maintain that connection with the kids who usually come to JM1. Our Junior Middler Camps are for kids entering grades 3-8, so there are kids here that I’ve known for the entire duration of their Camp Marshall experience. They are no longer little 3rd graders! This year I’m working with my friend and colleague the Reverend Mike Fay, because that makes both of us happy and keeps my life manageable.

Our theme for the summer is “Be Imitators of God” from Ephesians 5:1. I decided to pick 6 different attributes of God to talk about each day: Mighty/powerful (Monday), Funny (Tuesday), Merciful/Forgiving (Wednesday), Just (Thursday), Joyful (Friday), Storyteller (Saturday). Mike and I are sharing the preaching and celebrating, so I’m preaching on Mighty, Merciful, and Joyful. (links)

There will be other updates and photos in my Twitter feed (over on the right hand side) and even more pictures and video on the Diocesan Facebook page.

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At Deathbeds: On Closing Churches

In the last 18 month I’ve been present at the closing of three Churches. I was their priest; they had been a cluster when I was called. In each case it was excruciating and sad. In each case it was the right choice. Churches, the actual communities, the buildings located in towns and cities, are not immortal. While The Church, the larger universal body has outlasted change after change, its constituent parts are often subject to the changes of the world.

I am often asked what it like to close a Church. This rises out of, I suspect, the pastoral wish to let me talk through my experience. And, in an age where we are inundated with fearful “the Church is shrinking” messages, the fear that the person posing the question may experience their Church’s closing. (1)

My answer is simple. It is like watching someone die.

Much like the deathbeds I have been privileged to be present at, there have been times when Churches close suddenly, times when we were waiting for the last Sunday as much as we were dreading it, and times when we knew the last Sunday was coming but none of us would ever be ready.

Three deaths, 18 months. The stories I want to tell have little to do with the last Sundays, with the ultimacy of closing–much like the stories told at funerals aren’t usually about reading the will or cleaning the house out.

I want to tell about potluck dinners instituted by parishioners. About hospital visits and funerals. About children who graduated. I want to talk about rediscovering coffee hour. About how the purpose of one Church was to bury the last of a generation. I want to talk about how it was important to understand the purpose of a church before one Church could close. About the classes I taught and the subjects we discussed. I want to talk about a Church community that rediscovered itself. About sermons preached and conversations had.

I want to talk about how we lived.

What I have faith in, what I believe, is that none of this is lost. God’s grand economy of us, of our faith, means that none of our actions, faith-filled or otherwise, are meaningless, lost, or forgotten. Walking out of those buildings for the last time, not just for me, but for the last time for a priest of the congregation, is a test of Resurrection Theology. My faith is not that these congregations will somehow rise from the ashes, that what is now dead will survive. My faith is that these congregations’ actions, their faith will be part of the day of the Resurrection. At which time we will understand how this part of our lives was God drawing straight with crooked lines. (2)

1 Watch Dean Markham’s on the The Myth of the Decling of the Episcopal Church”
2 Portuguese proverb

Later this week I’ll turn to Sermon Reviews and what this next chapter of my life looks like.

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120 Books, 40 Days

The year I bought the most (non-school) books was my senior year of college.

I was six or seven when I discovered books so I’ve spent almost a quarter century reading, buying, and accumulating books. One of the six bookshelves (yes, six) in my apartment is dedicated to books that I have found and anticipate keeping for a long period of time. Some of them are the books I’ve had since I was six or seven.

Books are full of words, ideas, places, and people that I fell in love with. All of it. From the other places and amazing character to the fascinating ideas and the words that brought me all of this. I was a bibliophile before I knew the word, with a healthy library habit and more books than my shelves could hold.

I think there is a bit of escapism in every reader. Otherwise we would find no pleasure in spending time in Shanara, Middle Earth, Pern, Narnia or more realistic but happily ending worlds of Beverly Cleary, LM Montgomery, and so many others that passed through my hands.

But my senior year of college was unique. That year I needed escape. I’d had brain surgery for the second time. Both my physical and emotional recovery were arduous. Thank God for used book stores and therapists. I relied on both.

I learned that while my therapist will help keep me sane, my book buying habits are the first bellwether of serious stress. When I start buying more books than I can read, repeatedly; when the books begin to over-pile the shelves, even by my standards; when things progress beyond the “I like five books but I only really want one” stage; it is time to worry. It has been several years since I worried myself. The upside to having a bellwether is, if you pay attention then you know what is happening.

This year I noticed, well, book creep for lack of a phrase. I wasn’t buying more books than normal. I just wasn’t also cleaning my shelves off. I like having my books in my space. I have at least nosed through nearly all of them and they are my friends. There are worlds and possibilities and things I want to know. And there was too much of it.

A combination of bookshelf contemplation and Lenten preparation led me to one conclusion: it was time for fewer books. And because I knew I would not do it without a number, I gave it one. For Lent, I would take 100 books out of my apartment. 100 of my friends, of the books I had held and read and wanted to know, gone.

The first 78 to go

The first 78 to go

There were rules, of course. I have always found it useful to be specific in my Lenten disciplines. (There is a difference between no candy and no chocolate.) Duplicate books counted. (I had a few on the theory that they would be books I would give away, eventually.) Fiction books didn’t count. (The fiction section of my library is better cultivated and edited than others so I knew it would be too easy to remove some of those books.) And all 100 books had to be out of the house or boxed by Easter. Anything else was too much wiggle room.

At the beginning of Lent I had cataloged 650 books in my library and figured there were about 50 uncatalogued books. (This should not shock you, I spent a lot of time in libraries as a child.) 100 books, my goal, was about %14 of my library. The first ten books were easy. The next ten weren’t too bad. I got to 50 without any huge difficulties. 50-75 was challenging. The last 45 (because I actually went 20 over) were a debate on every single book. But in 40 days 120 books left my apartment.

In my Ash Wednesday sermon this year, I preached that Lenten disciplines are about drawing closer to Christ. In selecting books to give away, I accepted. I accepted that I will never be an expert on the Cold War, the Holocaust, Celtic Christianity, and so many other things. I came to terms with only owning one book about many topics. I held old friends and got lost in a few. As I held books I could not part with I began to realize that this discipline wasn’t at all what I thought.

I had thought giving these books, my escapes, away would be about being more vulnerable and less armored. And that terrified me. In culling down my bookshelves, I have indeed found myself, not more vulnerable but less distracted. More aware of the things I may truly be called toward as opposed to just interested in.

Perhaps, this time, Jesus was on the bookshelf.

From I Can Has Ceezburger

From I Can Has Ceezburger


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More than Jesus is Awesome

I am a Christian. I am not always sure if it is okay to call myself one.

A week ago Marcus Mumford, whose music I enjoy, had an interview published in Rolling Stone where he said,

“I don’t really like that [the word Christian]… I wouldn’t call myself a Christian. I think the word just conjures up all these religious images that I don’t really like. I have my personal views about the person of Jesus and who he was. Like, you ask a Muslim and they’ll say, ‘Jesus was awesome’ – …. I’ve kind of separated myself from the culture of Christianity.”

A lot of other Christians, many of whom also enjoy Mumford & Sons’ music, had a reaction. What did it mean for Christians to listen to this music, laden with Christian imagery and theology, if Mr Mumford does not identify with Christianity. Honestly, I think I shrugged. I like the music; it’s a quote that is going to sell magazines; and there’s not a lot of music I like. Well, there’s not a lot of music which isn’t in the Hymnal and has lyrics that I like.

Then The Rev. Lillian Daniel, whom I greatly admire and several of whose books sit on my shelves, responded. Writing at Relevant, a platform aimed at Christian Millennials, she told us It’s OK to Call Yourself a Christian.

And I couldn’t just shrug anymore.

I was one of those college students who identified as a Christian and hated it when the convert-the-campus-with-giant-signs-and-yelling people visited. Because I knew that’s what a lot of my classmates thought Christian meant. Their two week stint made my 52 week-in-and-week-out life harder for four years. (Then I went to seminary. None of my friends was surprised.)

I have been an ordained member of The Episcopal Church for five years this May. I know that Reverend Daniel speaks the truth when she says that part of the challenge of being the Church is that Jesus left people in charge of it. We are, all of us, imperfect creatures, who come with baggage and blind spots.

Some of that we are called to love. And it can take a lot of love. People can be very challenging.

Sometimes the Church, the people and what the people have made institutional and systemic in the Church, is worse than the pointy elbows and knees or missed emails and ignored communicationof being human. Sometimes the Church is predatory, neglectful, and abusive.

A recent post on Episcopal Cafe about clergy being forced out of their positions prompted quieter murmurings other places about how little discussion happened on that post. No one came forward to say it had happened to them. Few examples were given. Fewer remedies were really offered. I worry it is because every victim who read this was too scared to speak openly. A week long discussion in concert with a three day synchroblog about spiritual abuse had me emotionally exhausted and angry by day two. But I know that far more frequently these voices are silent or are whispered in places no where near the local Church.

Reverend Daniel summarized the Church with,

“Because you might actually bump into humanity [in the Church]. You might hit up against something you disagree with. You might have to listen to music you don’t like. You might get asked to share your stuff. You might learn from a tradition far older than you, and realize how small you are standing before such a legacy. You might even be asked to worship something other than yourself.”

All of that I can easily own as part of the Church. I love when the Church, the Body of Jesus, gathers for our best times and for our worst times. I know that we are important for all of the in-between or awkward times too.

I don’t think that’s the hard part. I don’t know of any evidence that the ‘nones’ are anti-community, they just are persuaded that the Church’s community isn’t right for them.

I am afraid that people have heard the Church gathers for our best, our worst, and our awkward in-between times, and while they may like that, they also know they can find all of that somewhere else–without the abuse and the silence. I am afraid that they have stopped hearing us call for the Church to be Christian.

Christian means Christ-like.

Jesus is not just awesome. Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the Christ. And Christian means we are to be like Christ. Or at least trying.

Which is the hardest thing, ever. Because we aren’t going to succeed. Not all of the time and not completely. And all of the people being Christians, trying to be Christ-like, don’t agree on what that means.

The very act of striving to be Christ-like changes us. It’s not about individualism vs community. It is about transformation and resurrection. It is about being willing to look at the worst and hardest parts of ourselves and our society trusting that Christ is looking with us and will be found in those places. It is about remembering that our God is greater than our worst sins–personal or institutional. It is about trying to be better than we are, or can be. It is about knowing that all of our work in this world is of the utmost importance and will fall short of the completely new thing Christ is working in and through us.

I think that message has gotten lost and muted in the midst of the baggage that comes with the word Christian.

Christian means more than Jesus is awesome. Christian means Christ-like. Being Christ-like means believing Easter is a verb, transformation is possible, and that we must have faith in what we cannot see.

I keep discovering that I’m not always OK with calling myself a Christian. Because Christian demands something of me. Not from the equally human people around me, but from from the Risen Savior who insists that I follow him.

But I am a Christian. And I keep trying.

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Small Churches, Big Buildings, and Millennials

In the last few days, I’ve seen at least two articles speculate about how Millennials might just be important to the future of the Church and radically change the nature of the Church. Apparently, my age-peers and I are not the natural heirs the Baby Boomers and do not want to merely continue what was built. (1)

May I invite you to take a deep breath?

As I have said before, we are not going to be the end of the Church.

Mr Vaters writes:

Some people have written off the current generation spiritually.
That is a mistake – for the church and for the Millennials.
There’s growing evidence that this new generation will bring the greatest opportunity for Small Church ministry in 2,000 years.
Why? Because, as the first generation with a majority born and raised outside traditional marriage, genuine relationships and intimate worship – what Small Churches do best – will matter more to them than it did to their parents.
But this opportunity comes with one, big condition.
They won’t give up quality to gain intimacy.
(emphasis in original)

Mr Vaters gets several things right about Millennials in this article. There is a generational tendency toward genuine relationship and–I disagree slightly here–genuine worship. Vaters does go on to discuss the need to be healthy and, as his blog exists as a platform to promote his pro small church (this is not a complaint, just an observation), I expect him to find a connection between small churches and Millennials.

On his blog Thom Rainer in a post titled “The Death of the Mall and the Future of Church Buildings” makes some similar observation, “Among the Christian Millennials there is a desire for greater intimacy in church. They are in many ways triggering a new small group revolution. And though they may not have an explicit aversion to large church facilities, neither are they attracted to them.

I tend to think that Rainer (and may I recommend his book Simple Church) is closer to the mark here–the size of a Church is probably going to become a neutral factor.

It is a romantic notion to think that size guarantees healthy live-giving relationships and intimate or genuine worship. As with all romantic notions, this is often wrong. The Church, of any size, can be a place of beautifully broken people who occasionally act that brokenness out on one another.

Millennials, or any other person, may find much to love in a Church that can offer relationships grounded in Gospel, proclamation of God who is gracious and loving, and space where all of our brokenness is loved.

Having been around more than one size of Church, I know that our ability to do this has less to do with our size and more do to with our health. I know that our health has everything to do with our devotion to the Gospel, our constancy in loving our community, praying for each other, our discipline in coming together to celebrate the Risen Lord.

This isn’t anything new. When we are at our best the Church is doing this, from the very beginning: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day The Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47

(1) This is supported by Dr Rodger Nishioka’s presentation to ECCC Mosaics and Millennials: Ministry with Young Adults

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Power that is Passed On: thoughts on a Papal Resignation

I woke up this morning, as I usually do, to NPR and the news. This morning I wasn’t completely sure a little time travel hadn’t been involved. The Pope resigning? But a quick check of the date (not April 1st) and other news sources (yep, the same thing) indicated, if not something completely new under the sun, then a return of something old and uncommon in a potentially new way.

I am no great fan of Pope Benedict XVI. I don’t think that will shock many people. Even less do I suspect that BXVI or much of the Roman Catholic hierarchy care about my opinion.

After today (already too full of discussion of potential papal intrigue), I have found a new measure of respect for BXVI.

After my mind started working, I thought of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. This prize is awarded to African heads of state or government who rule well and who democratically transfer power to their successor. I read about this prize when it was first announced and some of the theory behind it is that there is no retirement plan for African Heads of State. Once you hand over leadership of Bostwana you don’t get a cushy adjunct Professor position at Georgetown and a book deal. So, instead you don’t hand power over and things spiral down. Mo Ibrahim decided to help this problem.

In a world where our bodies can outlast our minds, much less our ability or desire to attempt a demanding job like Pope;* in a world where power and having power are important; I found new respect for BXVI today.

Now even more than before people and history are watching. How this is accomplished, what he does next, this things will be analyzed and repeated.

But whether this is deemed a success or failure in 50, 500, and 5,000 years, I hope we will also remember the courage it took to attempt. To change the precedent. To imagine a future where power is passed on.**

*Speculation about the details of BXVI’s health are both his to release or not and thus both an invasion of privacy and a waste of our time.
**Yes, I know that speculation has already started about how much BXVI may be able to shape the process of electing his successor. I would remind those who are stuck there that (1) every Pope has done that to some degree (2) such is the nature of hierarchical structures. And further suggest (3) back off the cynicism just a little (a tiny bit).

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Going Meta: Reviewing Sermon Reviews, part 3

Part Three: Other Preachers

It’s hard to avoid this being a list of links. But I’ve found some preachers I enjoy and certainly would have appreciated something like this existing at several different points in my life. So, here are the sites on my sermon list:

Mostly Weekly

My Sermons, audio

Bishop Rickel, Diocese of Olympia, audio

Trinity Episcopal Church, Natchez, MS, The Rev Walton Jones, audio

Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Shelby, NC The Rev Dr Valori Mulvey Sherer, audio and text

St Paul’s Regina, Sasketchewan, The Very Rev Mike Sinclair, audio

St Joan of Arc Regional Ministry, Montana, The Rev John Toles, text

St Stephen’s Armonk, NY, The Rev Joshua Condon, audio

St Paul’s Foley, AL video, audio, text

Bishop Fisher, Diocese of Texas, text

Holy Trinity, NYC, The Rev Mark Collins, audio

The Rev Eric Funston, text

Bishop Andy Doyle, Diocese of Texas, audio

Occasional (but still fairly regular) Postings:
The Rev George Baum
Epiphany NYC, The Rev Jennifer Linman
The Rev Jon M Richardson

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Sunday Afternoon on Twitter

I have an ongoing goal to show that actual conversations happen on Twitter.  I like to think of Twitter as the online version of a great coffee shop where great conversation can happen.  So this afternoon on Twitter a group of us started talking about Eucharistic Prayers.

  1. Eucharistic Prayer A: Eucharistic Prayer B: Eucharistic Prayer C: Eucharistic Prayer D: Disclaimer: This …

  2. @BCPYouth I use them all, but many Churches do seem to revert to A a lot.

  3. @theologybird I personally like D the best, but alas, what can we do?

  4. @BCPYouth I Love D! Would use it more if ppl didn’t comment on the length. (I know. I know.) We’re working on it.

  5. @theologybird Such a beautiful service! The longer the service, the better! 

  6. @BCPYouth no arguments from me. But some ppl need a ramp up into such a life. 

  7. @theologybird @BCPYouth A is the most basic, and the shortest, but I *love* both B & D. And EP2 in EOW.

  8. @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth A is ‘almost’ Rite 1 in Rite 2 language. And they did some good stuff in EOW

  9. @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth Wish we’d authorize another responsive Eucharistic prayer in the style of C but with the language of D

  10. @cmccarson @BCPYouth Me too. (Glances over shoulder) most participatory. Love that.

  11. @theologybird @BCPYouth Agreed. Love the additional congregational responses.

  12. @theologybird @BCPYouth When I write Eucharistic Prayers, I like to spread out the speaking parts – even the deacon says something!

  13. @theologybird @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth No one likes Prayer C but me. I love “Earth our island home”. Ah, the Star Trek Eucharistic Prayer!

  14. @GodWelcomesAll @theologybird @BCPYouth I love the line: By his blood, he reconciled us. By his wounds, we are healed. Really beautiful

  15. @cmccarson @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth it’s hard to beat Isaiah. Even sounds good in English

  16. @cmccarson @GodWelcomesAll @theologybird Probably my favorite part of C. I love the language of D though. A and B to me sound really rushed.

  17. @mciszek @theologybird @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth I love Prayer C…followed closely by EOW Prayer 2 and then Prayer D

  18. @mciszek @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth again and again [God] called us to repent. 

  19. @mciszek @theologybird @BCPYouth I love C – Deliver us from the presumption of coming 2 this Table 4 solace only, and not for strength;

  20. @cmccarson @theologybird @BCPYouth And “Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of bread!”

  21. @mciszek @theologybird @BCPYouth … for pardon only, and not for renewal. One of the most beautiful lines in the BCP.

  22. @GodWelcomesAll @mciszek @BCPYouth yes. C has a lot of great lines. Obviously.

  23. @theologybird @mciszek @GodWelcomesAll So, can we just have a service that combines all of them? 

  24. @theologybird @mciszek @BCPYouth I love the Incarnational language of B. And EOW 2 & D’s lifting up of Mary.

  25. @GodWelcomesAll @mciszek @BCPYouth B seems to play with the imagery of John 1 in ways I love. “Author of our salvation”

  26. @BCPYouth @theologybird @mciszek That might get a little long, even for me.

  27. @BCPYouth @GodWelcomesAll @theologybird @mciszek Nope. Way too long of a service. Honestly, I like my Eucharist short and sweet.

  28. @theologybird @mciszek @BCPYouth And I love the Eastern heritage of D!

  29. @BCPYouth @GodWelcomesAll @theologybird Least favorite liturgical element from EOW: The “supper of the Lamb” fraction anthem.

  30. @mciszek @BCPYouth @GodWelcomesAll some, not all, great stuff in EOW. (As some will say abt BCP)  

  31. @theologybird @BCPYouth @GodWelcomesAll Agreed, but my rector likes that fraction anthem and used it all summer this last year. 😦

  32. @BCPYouth @theologybird @mciszek I love pretty much *all* the BCP, but want more pretty prayers. Dunno that any one book can hold all of it!

  33. @GodWelcomesAll @BCPYouth @mciszek I want to make shirts “I steal my best theology from the Book of common Prayer”

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I Dream of Bishops

Tonight I’m dreaming of Bishops.

I grew up in a Church with a priest who is male. He was our priest from the time my family joined the Church to when I left for seminary. Although I was blessed to have a priest who was amazingly supportive and encouraging, I still remember the first time I saw women in a collar. It was an outward and visible sign that my Church included me.

I was old enough to be aware of when the Church of England started ordaining women. I remember being shocked and relieved that we were now both celebrating the fullness of the gifts of the Body of Christ. (Okay, I may not have used those words at the time.)

The Church has many roles to fulfill. One is to hold us to a catholic faith. But our faith has always been more than we have ever been. Another is to be the Body of Christ. To represent all of us to each other. Which is hard when we don’t have equal participation.

Today the Church of England failed to allow for the ordination of women to the Episcopate. A lot of the discussion I’ve seen so far is outraged, mixed, and sad.
So am I, for my sister clergy who serve faithfully in a part of the Church where their gifts are limited, for the angst of the future conversations about this topic.
But mostly I’m sad for the little girls for whom this means not a lack of talented and called Bishops who are women, but a lack of Bishops who are like them.  And it’s not just women who suffer this lack. 

So today I’m dreaming of Bishops.

Bishops who are old and young(ish); Bishops from every ethnicity; Bishops who are male and female; Bishops who are heterosexual and homosexual and every other sexual orientation; Bishops from wealthy and poor backgrounds; Bishops who spent their lives in the Church and Bishops who came to the Church after other careers; Bishops who are beacons of ‘health’ and Bishops who come with their assisting devices, chronic illnesses, health struggles; Bishops who are orthodox, liberal, evangelical, conservative, low Church, and the highest Anglo-Catholics.

Ultimately, I dream of Bishops who are passionate about Jesus and the Episcopal-Anglican tradition. Because that has nothing to do with gender, orientation, wealth, or anything other than the actions of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Categories: Church, Theology | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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