This year I’ve heard great stories from San Francisco, Chicago, Brooklyn and elsewhere of little bands of Episcopalians taking Ash Wednesday ashes to the streets. Sunday after Ash Wednesday, visiting at St. Lydia’s Dinner Church, I heard the writer of the blog, Bleak Theology, telling his story of first meeting the congregation a year ago Ash Wednesday and this year joining in imposing ashes at the Union/Pacific Subway Station in Brooklyn. Read more about Remember you are dust...
One of the biggest changes that happened around the decade leading up to and following the second Vatican Council which Pope John XXIII convened October 11, 1962, nine years to the day before I was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church. Vatican II is a workable marker for changes that were happening ecumenically throughout the Christian church. And actually, today, it’s startling to remember what a heady thing it was that the Roman Catholic Church gathered Anglican/Episcopal, Lutheran, and ecumenical Protestant (Taize) consultants in the deliberations of the Council and that together we launched an International Consultation on English Texts in the Liturgy. Read more about The Work
From our very first Lent in 1979 when St. Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco only had about a dozen members we poured heroic, unreasonable effort into producing a liturgically rich, inviting Easter Vigil. And then we put word out to friends. Read more about In praise of excessive effort for Easter and Christmas visitors
Quite early this morning I boarded the train at Stonehaven (near Aberdeen) crossing Scotland East to West to Glasgow. In Glasgow I’ll catch another train to travel up the coast to Oban. From Oban, I’ll take the ferry to Mull, then board a bus for Fionnphort where the day’s last ferry to Iona will be waiting for us. Tonight it will be dinner, prayers, and sleep in Iona Abbey. Read more about Part 1: Traveling across my life to Iona
After forty years of asking people to try and reflect on new ways of practicing church, I’m still loving helping our gathered communities discover fresh ways to do this, to be church, to gather openly in Jesus’ presence inviting all in, but this visit to Scotland, seeing how my daughter is making her life without church community, sensing how common that is among her friends and colleagues, seeing Britain’s empty or repurposed churches (a bar, a warehouse, an urban club, subdivided into housing), I sense an inkling of a future of loss; so much that we love and hope to hold on to is dying. Read more about Part 2: Iona, martyrs on the beach and falling in love
Why is most Christian worship still so far from the talk of Jesus, whose Aramaic tongue said 'rejoice' by using the verb 'to dance?' Once dance and worship were married; now they go to church together rarely and keep separate friends. Read more about Jesus Wants to Dance with You at Church
I’m thinking our annual year-end collision of Thanksgiving and Advent’s apocalyptic, last judgment readings just might be a happy or blessed accident. Reflecting on our experience of beginnings and endings, praying to find God present in both, we can’t escape the territory of personal and human crisis, fearful and hopeful imagination, and our faithful practice when we see that things we’ve counted on will certainly pass away. Read more about The Three Trees and the End of the World
My Uncle Ted was a Presbyterian lay missionary in Cameroon. He wasn’t actually my uncle. He’d been married to my great aunt and she died in Cameroon. He was one of those “uncles” who redefine family, an old, old friend of my living grandmother and the grandfather I never knew, an avuncular teacher and inspiration to all of us. I was proud to claim him for a relative. Read more about Stories #2: Who calls us to the table?
I’ll begin this concluding essay by saying where I meant the meandering path of the two previous essays to lead. I’m thinking of our church’s divorce story, our independence from Rome, as family story. And I’m seeing something in it that I’d never noticed, in a small event in 1532, that leads me to wonder whether Episcopal Church’s 2012 reorganization should include eliminating any separate “House of Bishops” Read more about Stories #3: Surprise gift from our Anglican divorce story
If what we’re up to when we gather to do church matters to humanity and the world we live in, we should be able to tell people what we’re doing and make sense to them without coercing their agreement (or silence) by us invoking our belief system and grand theological language that even we can’t explain without using more grand theological language. Read more about Just What is Church For?
We’ve titled our new All Saints Company book of liturgical music and hymns, “One Heart and One Song,” a line from the 19th Century English hymn, “From glory to glory advancing we praise Thee, O God,” which in turn translates a prayer from the ancient Liturgy of St. James. Read more about Part 3: Common Mind and the Mind of Christ
"The Christian faith has no in-group. It can't.
Jesus offered an edgy, unconditional welcome to sinners."
St. Paul boldly announced that Jesus' death had completed God's work of human reconciliation for all humanity. It was truly finished, done, so our choices become how to live reconciled and how to share the news of reconciliation. After Jesus' death, according to St. Paul, there was no one outside, no "them" left. Read more about The Font Outside our Walls
Yesterday’s interpretation of the Passion Gospel by the Trinity Choir was the most arresting interpretation I have ever experienced, an instant indelible memory.
The technical aspects of what the choir did were impressive: the solos, duets, and full-choir parts were all completely improvised – the choir had no music, only text (the way the early monastics used to sing) - and one rehearsal to gel. This meant that they had to listen to one another intensely, in the moment, and they had to listen to what the text, and the moment itself, was telling them to do. Read more about When Performance Becomes Listening