Reinventing Church

Every 500 years more or less, the church goes through upheavals. Now is our time for the upheaval. The first period might have been Constantine. Yes it was in the 300s and the Islamic revolution hit in the late 600s. Then there was Charlemagne around 800. And the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s. Here we are in the 21st century following (or perhaps in the middle of) a devastating pandemic.

What will the church be going forward?

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Companion Texts

I was reading Morning Prayer today. The Hebrew Bible lesson is the story of Samson from his birth. Bishop Spong once pointed out that all the miracles in the Christian scriptures (the “New Testament”) have direct counterparts in the Hebrew scriptures (the “Old Testament”), only in the Christian case, the miracles are pushed even further.

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Where is Irenaeus When we Need Him?

In the south of modern-day France, in the Roman city of Lugdunum which is now Lyon, around the middle of the second century, a bishop was stoned to death by the people of the city who followed Gnostic teachings. The pope summoned Irenaeus who was serving as a priest in Lugdunum and appointed him to be the second bishop of the region. Rather than set up shop as a bishop with all the pomp and circumstance, Irenaeus considered his work to be more missionary in nature since most of the people in his diocese were not Christian.

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Ascension Day Antics

Today (Thursday, 13 May) is Ascension Day commemorating Jesus’ resurrected body ascending into heaven (Acts 1:9). To modern, space-age sensibilities, the idea of a divine figure rising bodily into heaven has morphed from the medieval climax of the mystery of Christ into an embarrassment.

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Not Found in the History Books

This is a story I heard years ago from a bishop. I have no way of confirming the veracity of the story, but it is a story that makes me proud of the Episcopal Church. During the tenure of Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, the 9/11 conflict began. George W. Bush was the US president at the time.

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Rethinking Ordination

Our Book of Common Prayer tells us that only priests and bishops are ordained to “Absolve, Bless, and Consecrate” things. This is sometimes referred to as the “ABC theory of priesthood.” While this might give us a good operational delineation of the different things ordained clergy can do versus non-ordained laity, it has never felt like a good pointer for what clergy SHOULD be doing. At least not this clergy person.

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fides quaerens intellectum (Faith Seeking Understanding)

Today, April 21, we commemorate Anselm of Canterbury on our church calendar. He is an 11th century Archbishop of Canterbury who served and quarreled with two English kings.  His motto of “faith seeking understanding” does not mean he hoped to replace faith with understanding. Anselm is the most significant theologian in the western church from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas, a span of 800 years. We would do well do consider his ideas.

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In Praise of Bishops

I write this the week before our new diocesan bishop arrives for a “visitation.” It might be helpful for us to review some things about the office of bishop in the Episcopal Church.

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Commemoration of Gregory, Apostle to Armenia, 280

Armenia is the first nation to become Christian, long before Constantine and the Roman Empire. Situated between the Roman Empire to the west and the Parthian (Persian) Empire to the east, Armenia has been a battleground for political and religious dominance throughout history. Gregory suffered torture and imprisonment when he returned in mission to the country of his birth. After a decade of severe treatment, he was consecrated the first bishop of Armenia.

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Gregory of Nyssa

I wrote this on Tuesday morning this week, very early. It was the feast day observing Gregory of Nyssa, one of the “Cappadocian Fathers” (Gregory, his brother Basil and their close friend Gregory of Nazianzus). The two Gregorys were appointed bishops against their will by their elder brother, Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea, all, in modern-day Turkey.