31 August 2007

Dean's Commentary from VTS - Rev. Dr. Ian Markham

The Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Ian Markham, is posting a daily commentary about various aspects of life at VTS. I have been reading it daily, and think that Dean Markham has done a fine job of highlighting some of the key aspects of the life and mission of VTS.

In today's post (August 31), Dean Markham takes up the topic of Field Education supervisors. I have quoted his posting below, but I need to echo this important work in my life and vocational development. My supervisor, Rev. Janice Robinson, at Grace Church, Silver Spring was absolutely outstanding and wonderful in her mentorship, friendship, and all around wisdom as I spent two years working alongside her with a wonderful congregation.

Here is a picture of the two of us at the 2007 Commencement, and below is the Dean Markham's Commentary.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The delivery of our mission is hard work. The formation of men and women so that they are ready to serve God effectively is difficult. Fortunately, we have many friends who recognize the importance of this mission and are ready and willing to help. In my conversation with Jacques Hadler, we talked about the demands made on our supervisors at the various field education sites. These are the placements, where students are given the opportunity to live into the demands of parish and congregational life.

On the list for 2007-8, we have 125 sites (mainly churches, but a few schools and hospitals). The supervisors are required to provide oversight and supervision for the seminarian, as well as undergo a rigorous training. The willingness to do this demonstrates a deep commitment to the mission of formation. These supervisors know that the next generation of clergy depends on their help.

This morning we thank all those who are willing to offer their time to supervise. We celebrate this important contribution to the delivery of the VTS mission.

The Very Rev Ian Markham
Dean and President

30 August 2007

Mentor Bloggers.... on Episcopal Cafe Blog

Two of my mentors from VTS, Roger Ferlo and Kathy Staudt have blog posts on the Episcopal Cafe Blog.

Dr. Ferlo wrote yesterday here about the "Anonymous Apostles" who have arrived at Virginia Theological Seminary for the beginning of a new academic year at VTS. Since this arriving class is 'replacing' my own class of 2007, I was very interested in his reflections. Also, it seems like only yesterday that I was beginning my academic work at VTS, struggling through introductory Koine Greek and wondering what this whole seminary thing would be! Read Roger's post here.

Dr. Staudt wrote today here of the teacher, theologian, writer, and prophet Verna Dozier who died just a year ago today. I was a big fan of Verna Dozier's as well, having read her book, The Dream of God several times. Kathy writes well about Verna Dozier's wonderful ministry and her great presence. Read her post here.

29 August 2007

My Sermon from first Staff/Faculty Chapel Service

Opening Faculty - Staff Chapel Service

Genesis 1:24 - 2:3; Psalm 46; Reading from T.S. Eliot’s “The Four Quartets”

28 August 2007

On the way from East Middlebury Vermont on Route 125 to Hancock Vermont, there are two hills that literally take your breath away. The first is just after the bridge that carries traffic about 50 feet over the Middlebury River – over “the gorge.” That first hill is affectionately called “Sand Hill.” The reason for the name, “Sand Hill” in fact is that there is always a healthy coating of sand on the hill, even in summer there is a healthy layer left over from the icy winter. It is steep, but in a car for 9 months of the year it really won’t give you any problems. However, for those three (or 5!) winter months, it is important to be moving with some velocity before the bridge so that your momentum (and engine) can take you up “Sand Hill.” Now, on a bike, it is a seriously different matter than in a car … on a bike “Sand Hill” offers a challenge to your legs, heart, lungs and spirit no matter the month, the season, the weather or the quality of the cyclist. Even if you are strong, there is a good likelihood that you can slip and fall while trying to climb uphill.

The second major hill on the route from East Middlebury to Hancock is a much bigger deal; this is the hill that hits you not so long after you pass the pristine summer campus of Bread Loaf, where notable writers such as Robert Frost lived, and where many notable writers, such as Ann Sexton, John Updike still teach writing. The road rolls along in a civilized way for a mile or two before you re-enter the woods, and the road hits a wall. That hill has no name, but it is also covered by sand, but unlike Sand Hill, it doesn’t last a hundred yards, but lasts about 2 miles. When you hit that hill, it can make you feel like you might just turn around and go home, it takes your breath away, and in mid – July, even in Vermont, it can be a roasting experience on the hot road. It is so steep you don’t want to take your hands off the handlebars to take a drink, and it is one of those places where you just have to dig deep.

Sometimes, all we can do is put one foot in front of another, be conscious of our breathing and just hope that the steep stretch will, indeed, be over soon. At other times, even in the steepest part of our lives, we can find a rhythm, perhaps we are reminded of a happy moment, perhaps our faith gives us strength in our legs and heart and soul, and often there are others who minister to us and give us a sense of rest, even in our most trying times. Sometimes another will just pedal along with us for a stretch of time, share their time with us, share their own experience, and we realize that we will make it after all!

Even in these moments of stress and challenge, (and perhaps especially in these moments), God is there. Even, and especially, in these moments of stress, God is there. “Be still, then, and know I am God.” The psalmist knows that life is full of motion, of busy-ness, of action. The psalmist does not live in a fantasy-land. No, the psalmist calls out the words of God, “Be still, then, and know that I am God.”

We all know how the schedule starts spinning and all we can do is jump on and try to enjoy the ride. However, the physicist and the dancer among us might remind us that there is also a place where we can go where the spinning is not so treacherous. “At the still point of the turning world….there the dance is.” Or, as Augustine would remind us, “our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

Today the church remembers Augustine of Hippo, ... can we learn from Augustine? Augustine knew that we are in some major way restless, anxious, stressed with all the changes and chances of our lives, and can know true rest only in God’s embrace. The hope is that God is with us, that God loves us, and does not wait to care for us, to offer us rest, but is immanent and holding us in the palms of God’s hands! “Be still, then, and know that I am God.”

What might we learn from God as God created (and still creates through us, and among us and beside us)? In Genesis, we hear the story of God creating, but we also hear that God rested. Each day after work, God reflected, and rested. This practice of work, reflection, and rest may be one that is healthy for our students, even for us (and especially for me!). [And who better to model our day upon than God, anyway!]

God also ordained the day of rest, the Sabbath. We Christians have much to learn from our Jewish brothers and sisters in terms of honoring the Sabbath. Imagine really taking a day away from work to turn to family, to spend time with friends, to eat food already prepared, to worship, to enjoy God’s creation, and to remember that IT is not about us, and IT does not depend on US after all. Taking an entire day away may look impossible, but the concept of Sabbath-keeping may be one in which we can carve Sabbath-time out of our busy days. As a wise person in our midst reminded me yesterday when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, “it doesn’t all have to be perfect.” I know how I can get caught up in the chase for perfection. Lord knows our girls need reminders that in seeking excellence, they also must take a break, and they need to give themselves a break – to work with diligence, but then take themselves lightly. In taking time to reflect and relax and play, we cultivate gratitude, and cultivate thanksgiving for all we have and for all we are. Even the medieval Benedictine monks included “Play” as one of their key values..

Embracing playfulness, and cultivating a practice of work, reflection, and rest will be especially important as we as a school enter into this time of change, of restlessness, and of stress. There are many beginnings here this year, and endings as well, the community seems to possess a wealth of hope, but probably at least a bit of fear as well. As Cathy wrote in her letter to the upper school faculty, “The theme of change remains, paradoxically, a constant for the next several years at St. Catherine’s.” If change = stress, we probably need to help each other weather some of the changes going on here!

New Head of School, End of Boarding, Building Renovation, New Business Office Configuration, New Business Manager, Newe Online Program-Whipple Hill, VAIS Re-Accreditation, New Faculty, New Students, Growth in Middle School, New Chaplain...

...New classes, new teams, new musical groups, new friends, new names to learn, new curriculum to teach, new classrooms in which to teach, new clothes to wear, new city to negotiate, …..and any other newness and challenges and changes and chances that are present in your lives, the lives of your loved ones, and the lives also of our students!

And we know how change goes, change is really ok, as long as you don’t ask me to change, go ahead and change whatever you like. We may feel at times like we are climbing up Sand Hill, that our wheels can’t get much traction, and that the flat, easy ground is far far away. I know that I have trouble sometimes as I summon the energy to get through the steep and slick roads. However, the great hope is that God offers us a model of work, reflection, and rest. When we can “Be still” and know that we are NOT God…when we can find the “still point,”…we might remember to “give ourselves a break,” both literally and figuratively. Taking time and taking ourselves lightly. When we can do our work, then reflect upon it, and rest, we might see that it ain’t so bad, we can make it up the hill, and there are many others around to help. The changes we are experiencing are probably nothing like the changes that our girls are experiencing, as our summer reading reminded us again. Just as we have experienced the hills and valleys of life, our students are experiencing many of those challenges for the first time. Our own modeling of work, reflection, and rest will also help our students to find that “still point,” where they can “know God” and know themselves as created, loved and cared for by God.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night/day, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

26 August 2007

Church ... and churches ...

Church is not just made up of buildings, but there surely are some beautiful ones .... may we allow our churches to help bring us together and allow us to fully experience God and not get in the way of the Spirit! Hopefully we can deal with "deferred maintentance" of our churches so that the buildings will not rot, but, even more I hope that we can deal with the "deferred maintenance" of our Church as well -- taking care to build up our Church so that we might experience God.

24 August 2007

Which needs give our lives meaning?

Will Willimon gives us challenging (and also helpful!!) words as we minister in the context of the 21st century when we carry Blackberries, are on email, voicemail, and all the other tools that may move a minister into becoming a "quivering mass of availability" ... the final sentence of this quote is most telling and most challenging ...

From William Willimon’s “Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry”:

“My colleague Stanley Hauerwas has accused the contemporary pastor of being little more than ‘a quivering mass of availability.’ Practicing what I have called ‘promiscuous ministry’–ministry with no internal, critical judgment about what care is worth giving–we become the victims of a culture of insatiable need. We live in a capitalist, consumptive culture where there is no purpose to our society other than ‘meeting needs.’ The culture gives us the maximum amount of room and encouragement to ‘meet our needs’ without appearing to pass judgment on which needs are worth meeting. The capitalist, big-is-better mentality infects our pastoral work as we labor to increase the size of our congregation through our care, to move up the ladder of pastoral appointments, to be a ’success’ as this culture defines it. In this vast supermarket of desire, we pastors must do more than simply ‘meet people’s needs.’ The church also is about giving people the critical means of assessing which needs give our lives meaning, about giving us needs we would not have had if we had not met Jesus.


18 August 2007

Tomorrow's Gospel - Luke 12:49

Many of my friends are preaching tomorrow on Luke 12:49, if you are unfamiliar with this text, read it below ... a challenging text to say the least!

I am not preaching, but I am reading the Gospel as the deacon of the service, and I have not done a full job of reflecting on and wrestling with and exegeting this text. That said, my reaction to this text is that: Jesus means business! Jesus did not come in a trifling way, and his mission on earth was not one that was unimportant, or without challenge. Many of us desire "peace" and "unity" rather than division, and we desire some semblance of love and companionship between sons and fathers and mothers and daughters. However, these gaps and divisions between generations are real ones, and Jesus' coming is a New Thing, the Gospel, the Good News - but it may not initially look so peaceful, or unifying or perhaps even 'good.' Jesus came into the world and he meant business, he came with power and might, and Jesus also comes into the world today, and means business, he comes into the world in power and might. Do we trust God enough to see that Jesus is calling us to interpret the present times? Will we live in a way that embraces the eschatological framework that God is going to come and judge us, and that Jesus does not come in a trifling way, but comes in a real way, to deal with real injustice; that Jesus does not come into the world powerless, but transforms and explodes the power systems of our world - even the relationships between family members of different generations?

This text is a challenging one, and even a scary one. The image of Jesus here does not seem to be an image of a 'good shepherd,' but rather a terrible taskmaster. Perhaps we need to see that God cares about the world enough to send someone who loves us, but also who will ask us to account for those things we have done, those things we have left undone, for those things that have been done in our name, and for all the ways that our lives intersect with sin and evil that is done in the world. God cares about the world enough to send His Son who loves us, and loves us enough to judge us, and to empower us to live up to that judgment.

May we hear these difficult and challenging words, and heed them as a wake up call!

Luke 12:49 (NRSV) "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided:
father against son
and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
54 He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, "It is going to rain'; and so it happens. 55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, "There will be scorching heat'; and it happens. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

17 August 2007

August Gratitude for God's Work "Behind the Scenes"

This has been a very busy summer, with my wife doing graduate school in New York City, and my good efforts to be the primary child care provider for our two sons, a move from Northern Virginia to Richmond, over 4000 miles on the car on trips to CT, DC, Vermont, Cape Cod, and various other trips. Now I will soon begin work as a school chaplain, which I am very excited about, but also I am more and more aware of how much work gets done quietly, with little fanfare, often in the background of our lives. All too often, I have forgotten to be aware and thankful for all that my spouse has done to make our house a home and to offer love and care to me and our kids. Likewise, I see all the support staff at my new school getting ready for the year, the grounds are beautiful, renovations continue, classrooms are spotless, and all this can easily be ignored for the more "important" work of teaching and learning and coaching and playing ... being aware of the work that gets done in the background of our lives is, I believe, a theological and a spiritual practice. Cultivating gratitude for all that other people do to support us reminds us as well of the work that God does to support us, guide us, and provide us with what we need.

God is in the midst of us, creating, providing, enabling, and loving this wonderful creation, including each and every one of us and the beauty of the world. These images from Cape Cod also remind me of God's presence and God's goodness ... though I envy C and H who depart for the Cape this weekend (I am green with envy!) ...

I hope we can all cultivate a sense of gratitude for God's work in our lives, and a sense of gratitude for all those who work 'behind the scenes,' to provide for us. May we also remember and cultivate gratitude and thanksgiving (eucharisto) for all God has done for us.

14 August 2007

Quotes from Thomas Merton...

I ran across these two quotes from Thomas Merton, one (on the God's Politics Blog) that speaks to me as we try to settle into our new home, search for cheap furniture, try to resurrect the yard, unpack boxes, play with our children, put food on the table, and begin also to work. The mountaintop experiences are not where I am now, but I am striving (with some greater and some lesser success) to see God's hands at work all around me ... even, and especially, in the "everyday" moments in which God is (of course) already present....

Better just to smell a flower in the garden...than to have an unauthentic experience of a much higher value. Better to honestly enjoy the sunshine or some light reading than to claim to be in contact with something that one is not in contact with at all.

- Thomas Merton
Quoted in Essential Monastic Wisdom, by Hugh Feiss

The other quote I ran across on the Inward/Outward Blog from the Church of Our Saviour, risking for the gospel, and living the gospel as NEW, BRAND NEW!

The Gospel is handed down from generation to generation but it must reach each one of us brand new, or not at all. If it is merely “tradition” and not news, it has not been preached or not heard - it is not Gospel…. If there is no risk in revelation, if there is no fear in it, if there is no challenge in it, if it is not a word which creates whole new worlds, and new beings, if it does not call into existence a new creature, our new self, then religion is dead and God is dead.

Source: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

08 August 2007

Rev. Dr. Michael Battle on Ubuntu

Well, lots of posting today...I am avoiding unpacking and enjoying the surfing...also, it is HOT HOT HOT down here in Richmond, VA...

Here is a video clip of my thesis advisor and professor from seminary, the Rev. Dr. Michael Battle who gives a very short (1min 29seconds) description of the African theology of Ubuntu, the idea that "a person is a person through other persons." He's a wonderful person and I feel blessed to have had the chance to learn (a bit) of his wisdom over my years in seminary. He is now the Provost of the Los Angeles Cathedral. Check it out, it's pretty good...

Click HERE, to see the video clip, (posted on the Episcopal Cafe blog)...

24 things (most) Episcopalians Believe (on good days)

From Rev. Canon Ronald Osborne of the Diocese of Iowa..., these have been on the web for awhile, but I just ran across them doing my blog surfing...I think they're pretty good...Check out his blog HERE.

Twenty-four things (most) Episcopalians Believe (on good days):

1. Some Episcopalians will take issue with some or all of what follows. Most Episcopalians believe more or less than 24 things! So this list is not the last word!

2. God is Creator. God is creative love. God is life-giving Spirit. God is thus three “persons” of one “being.”

3. "God is closer to us than we are to ourselves" --St. Julian of Norwich. God is also “wholy other”, beyond our knowing. We live in this paradox.

4. .God is manifested vividly, fully, compellingly, in Jesus of Nazareth, who lived, taught, healed, proclaimed a new commonwealth, was killed, and raised to life. He is God’s “Word” made flesh.

5. Jesus remains among us to invite resurrection from the many forms of death around us and in us and to offer us the gift of life.

6. Evil is real. We are capable of doing evil. In our baptism we renounce it. And God transforms evil into his own good and gives us the will and strength to transform it in ourselves and the world.

7. Community with Jesus as the center, grounded in the life of God, enlivened by the Spirit, is a gift. The institutional church is a major way that community is accessible to us. So even as an institution the church is a sacred thing. But God is not captive to the fallibilities of the church!

8. Christian community becomes what it is in sacramental acts, specific, tangible, material things in which the mystery of God’s love is made known to us, especially in Baptism and the Lord's supper or Eucharist or Mass. Those "religious" sacraments help us to see everything sacramental; the whole world discloses the generosity of God, the whole world is a sacrament of grace.

9. The worship of the community involves everyone and is the offering of the special gifts of each.

10.Christian community does not exist for itself, but to invite the transformation of the world. The community becomes what it is not only in "sacramental acts" but in reaching out with Christ's love, justice and mercy to heal and free. Christian community works best when it is self-monitoring. Our leaders engage in an annual process of self-examination. Our leadership is trained to identify and prevent the spread of such institutional evils as racism and child abuse.

11.Uniformity of beliefs and disciplines is stifling. Our differences disclose the variety of gifts the Spirit gives. We will have different perceptions about what friendship with God requires of us. So we don't tell each other what to do or make judgments about each other. We do try to be supportive of each other. We try to be "a church in which there are no outcasts" as our former Presiding Bishop puts it. We struggle hard to overcome those fears which keep us from being fully inclusive. God is not through with us yet. So we strive to be a community in which we have “in all things essential, unity; in all things non-essential, diversity; in all things, charity.”

12.The full participation of women in all aspects of the church and the honoring of their gifts is something the Spirit requires of us. There is no place in the church which is not women's place. As women's full participation in the community and special gifts are respected we discover that God is not only our Father but our Mother.

13.Abortion is an agonizingly complex question. We are both pro-life and pro-choice. Those seemingly contradictory positions seem to us to be consistent and reasonable. We are pro-life because a fetus is potential human life in a unique way and requires respect and reverence. On the other hand the life and health of a woman is of considerable moral meaning. When those claims for life conflict, women and their husbands and families and physicians are the best people to make moral judgments. The state needs to respect the moral agency of these people. And the Church needs to emphasize the sacred and fragile nature of God’s gift of life. We struggle with this issue.

14.On the whole, truth is likely to be found more in what is affirmed than in what is denied and more in "both/ands" than in "either/ors". So black and white thinking and thinking dominated by negations probably is not helpful.

15.Institutions are necessary, but should be kept in the service of community, not the other way around. Hierarchies seem not to be the wave of the future, at least not the future of God, who creates not from above but from the midst of the world. The kinds of hierarchy which remain part of church life exist to serve the people of God, not to dominate them. There are some among us who don’t get this.

16.The Scriptures speak God's truth with special power and are God's Word. Simplistic and literalistic interpretations may miss the point of what God says to us.

17.Tradition is a treasure through which we can discern God's future, not something with which to enshrine our past. There is much rich insight in the tradition which helps us to look forward to God's future. “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” (Jaroslav Pelikan's "The Vindication of Tradition")

18.Reason is a gift. We should accept it even in religious matters. We affirm the importance of an ongoing conversation between the voices of faith and those of science, art, culture, economics and public life.

19.Some of us know conversion as a specific, sudden experience. Most of us know it as a life-long process. Those who know it as a specific experience find that it is authenticated in a life-long process of growth.

20.Friendship with God and God's people is serious, but it is held lightly in joy. Play is as religious as work.

21.Friendship with God is acted out mostly in our daily lives in what we do, with few pronouncements.

22.Anyone who claims to speak for God should do so only after listening in much silence.

23.Any church with Henry VIII among its members surely would understand something about forgiveness!

24. We are not the true church. But we are part of it! It has many parts. In affirming loyalty to our own church we do not disparage others.

This statement was mostly written by the Rev. Canon Ronald Osborne.

A light hearted look at what Episcopalians Believe

Episcopalians occasionally believe in miracles and sometimes even expect them, particularly during stewardship canvasses or when electing bishops or vicars, or recruiting church school teachers.

Episcopalians believe in ecumenical dialogue because they are certain that after all is said and done everyone else is bound to become Episcopalian.

Episcopalians strongly believe in Scripture, tradition and reason. While they aren't sure what they believe about these three things, there is almost universal agreement that that is hardly the point.

Episcopalians believe that everything in their life and faith is improved by the presence of good food and drink, not including lime-carrot jello, tropical punch koolaid, or canned tuna fish in any form.

Episcopalians believe that anything worth doing is especially worth doing if it has an obscure title attached to it (e.g. sexton, thurifer, suffragan, canon, dean).

Likewise, Episcopalians believe that any place worth visiting is greatly enhanced by a name that only obliquely describes it (e.g., nave, narthex, sacristy, undercroft, church school supply room).

Episcopalians firmly believe that coffee hour is the eighth sacrament, but only if the coffee is caffeinated.

Episcopalians believe that anthems are most efficacious if sung in Latin or German, especially during Lent.

Episcopalians generally believe that they are the only people God trusts enough to take the summers off from Church.

Some Episcopalians believe Rite I is the best expression of the liturgy. Some believe Rite II is better. Most Episcopalians haven't noticed the difference; they just hope the whole things gets over before noon.

Interesting article on seeing "ourselves in Shakespeare"

From the Washington Post....I've posted an excerpt below, you can also read the entire article HERE, or Here...

Ourselves in Shakespeare

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, August 8, 2007; A15

It is a disturbing experience to watch your own brother, your flesh and blood, dabble in the occult, become consumed by ambition and then descend by stages into murder. And the last straw was when he ordered the slaughter of those children.

But it was even harder for my younger brother Christopher to play Macbeth 13 times at the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona, Minn., giving sympathetic life to a moral monster, under seven layers of Scottish armor while carrying a 20-pound spear. It is a tribute to his skill that when Macbeth's head was finally brought on stage in a bloody sack, it did not feel like justice done but like the departure of the play's vital, lawless center.

Every summer, the church of Shakespeare holds services called festivals in Alabama, Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, Hampton Roads and nearly every place with cultural ambitions. There is Shakespeare by the Sea in Redondo Beach, Calif., Shakespeare on the Green in Wilmington, N.C., Shakespeare on the Sound in Norwalk, Conn., and Shakespeare Under the Stars in Wimberley, Tex. And the worshipers are fervent and knowledgeable; an actor at the Winona festival was distracted one night by an older woman in the second row who mouthed the entire play along with the production.

Some of this attraction is the beauty and complexity of Shakespeare's words -- the tumble of ideas and images that yield more meaning on the 10th hearing than on the first. But the amazing achievement of the plays, as critic Harold Bloom and others point out, is when characters such as Hamlet, King Lear or Macbeth transcend the words they speak and come to life -- transformed into what the poet Shelley called "forms more real than living man." Other playwrights use characters as mouthpieces for their own wit or philosophy. Shakespeare's greatest characters seem to possess the spark of their own identity. They have somehow escaped the cage of the author's intentions....

Read the rest HERE, or Here.

Some reflections on Anglicanism from the Seabury-Western Dean

Some helpful and interesting reflections on Anglicanism (in response to a letter in The Living Church) from the Very Rev. Gary Hall, the dean and president of Seabury-Western Seminary...

Welcome at the Table


In his Guest Column, “Careless Communion” [TLC, July 8], the Rev. Ian Montgomery described a commencement he attended at “one of our seminaries” where, from his point of view, everything seemed to go wrong. The eucharistic bread crumbled and fell to the floor, the presider made an open invitation to communion, and the preacher seemed to endorse what the article called the “new Episcopal religion.”

It didn’t take me long to realize that the event Fr. Montgomery described was, in fact, the commencement of the seminary of which I am the dean, Seabury-Western in Evanston, Ill. While Fr. Montgomery ably expresses his reaction to some elements of our liturgy that day, I would like to address a few of his concerns.

Fr. Montgomery writes that “the bread used crumbled badly and was dropping to the floor during the administration of the sacrament.” Nobody who knows Seabury and its liturgical traditions well could seriously think that we are intentionally lax in our treatment of the sacrament. What Fr. Montgomery experienced was the unfortunate consequence of our new policy of using gluten-free bread at all celebrations of the Eucharist. The Seabury community now has several members with Celiac disease (gluten intolerance), and so we have started using only gluten-free bread as an expression of our inclusive hospitality. If you have ever tried to bake gluten-free bread, you know how tricky it can be. I regret that the recipe used at commencement produced friable bread, and we will work to make sure that the experience is not repeated.

While crumbly bread might seem an apt metaphor for Anglicanism, in reality it’s an expression of a community trying to react pastorally to a new situation — which, in a sense, is what so much of the current conflicts over sexuality, open communion, and inclusive language is about in the first place.

Read the rest of this fine article HERE.

05 August 2007

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes, Boxes, Jesus, Boxes....

We are unpacking boxes...trying to see the light through the haze of cardboard...

I hope to return to more frequent blogging, soon!

Peace to all,

I pray that Jesus is even here in and between and among the boxes!!