Friday, March 30, 2007

Stations of the Cross - Lent 2007

I've just finished the most amazing Lenten project with the youth of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Hancock, MD. The youth created a set of Stations of the Cross to be used by the church during Holy Week. Click the image below and you'll see them on Picasa!
Stations of the Cross - Lent 2007

These Stations are based on those celebrated by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991. They are presented here as an alternative to the traditional stations and as a way of reflecting more deeply on the Scriptural accounts of Christ's passion. To get the prayers and readings, visit the USCCB web site.

Playing the Friday Five - Holy Week, Batman!

ReverendMother at RevGalBlogPals writes:

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
At St. Thomas' Episcopal Parish, Hancock, MD
Blessing of the Palms and Holy Eucharist Rite I at 7:30 am
The Liturgy of the Palm Sunday and Holy Eucharist Rite II at 10:00 am with Dramatic Reading of the Passion According to St. Luke.

We can't just do anything without a sufficiently long title in the Episcopal Church! I've been assigned the role of Jesus for the dramatic reading - pretty out-of-the-box for rural Western Maryland!
2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
Yes, we do it in a limited way at my internship site. The clergy (and "almost clergy") will wash the feet of two members of the congregation.

I remember the first time my children did this, though, at another church. Our oldest daughter was 8 and the youngest 4. They insisted on washing each other's feet. The "mom" in me gave them the short "talk" about how this was serious and not to mess around up there. Well, they didn't ... and took it very serious and reverently - brought tears to my eyes.
3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
Veneration of the Cross has always been a very powerful thing for me. Yes, that pegs me as an Anglo-Catholic type - guilty as charged!
4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"
I'd vote (b) if we did sunrise services - but we don't. We follow the regular Sunday schedule ... but for me that means getting up and on the road at 6:30 am anyway to make it to Hancock MD by 7:30!
5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
Alleluias! all over the place ...
Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.
Most definitely! Easter Vigil was reintroduced in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and I love it!! Last year, I went to the Easter Vigil at Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church (which last year was one week later). I got there at 9 pm ... and the place was PACKED. At 11:55, all the candles were extinguished and the nave was in total darkness - until the curtain over the Royal Gates was pulled back to show the light on the altar from which everyone's candles would be lit. With candles lit, we processed out chanting "Christ has risen from the dead!" (in Greek, of course ... so thankful that I learned this from the Lutherans!). We went out on the front lawn for a short reading of the resurrection Gospel narrative - and then they rang the bells and we chanted some more. Then back into the church for the Eucharist. I didn't get home until 3 am. Because of that awesome and mystery filled experience, I have little patience for Episcopalians who whine about how loooooong the Easter Vigil services is! When they do, I usually respond, "Really? You ought to join me for the Orthodox Vigil ... it lasts all night with a party until dawn!" I don't usually get any takers on that.

On Easter Tuesday, our diocesan bishop will retire, and his last Easter Vigil will be at St. John's Episcopal in Hagerstown. I get to be subdeacon (woo hoo!) ... for the last time before I'm ordained in June.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Archbishop Venables and works righteousness

I was sent this article from Episcopal Life this morning:

SOUTHERN CONE: Archbishop Venables responds to House of Bishops resolutions

For those of you who don't know Archbishop Venables, it will be quite clear from reading his response to the HOB resolutions that he is very conservative and has a literalist hermeneutic of Biblical interpretation. He has also been involved with the group of African bishops, led by Archbishop Peter Akinola, who have continued to violate diocesan boundaries under the guise of providing "pastoral oversight" to Episcopal congregations who disagree with our national church (which, I might add, is also a violation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report).

What caught my eye in his response was the following quote:
"We are concerned because the Church has always taught and understood that the content of belief and behaviour impacts salvation."
So the "content of belief and behaviour [emphasis added]" impacts salvation? Perhaps I've been studying at a Lutheran seminary too long or perhaps because I have always understood the Anglican Church as being of a reformed tradition, but doesn't this talk of our behaviour impacting our salvation smack of works righteousness theology? What happened to Jesus dying "once for all" as a "full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world?" (BCP, p. 334)

We are called as Christians to repentance and amendment of life, but not as a precondition to our salvation! "For all sinned and lack the glory of God" (Rom. 3.23) - including Archbishop Venables. If he can show me exactly where the Holy Scriptures list a hierarchy of which sins are worse than others in the eyes of God and which are going to impede my salvation, I'd love to see it.

Last time I read our Holy Eucharist Rite I service, it said:
"by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins ..." (BCP, p. 335)
Hmmm, no mention of our "behaviour" there.

Monday, March 26, 2007

War and faith

Seems like a weird combination doesn't it? I'm taking a course called "Religion in America" at Gettysburg Seminary this semester. Today we took a "field trip" ... literally ... out to the Virginia monument on the Gettysburg Battlefield. I must admit, as a Californian the whole Civil War thing seemed really remote to me growing up - just a bunch of names I had to memorize for my American History class in high school so I could pass the test.

But now, here I am, going to seminary in the middle of this Civil War battlefield. Tour buses literally drive right through the campus (which means we have to be on our best behavior when trying to parse Greek verbs when we're sitting outside!).

So our class went out to the Virginia monument on Seminary Ridge today - just south of the campus (that's General Robert E. Lee on his horse Traveler on the top of the monument). The whole of Seminary Ridge is the former Confederate line. Driving down it, you come upon monument after monument to the various Confederate Army units. When you look out over the battlefield facing the direction Gen. Lee is facing, you can see Cemetery Ridge and all of the monuments to the Union Army's units.

Stanley Hauerwas was our guest lecturer this year at the Luther Colloquy. He spoke about war and offered his observations that the Civil War was a theological war insofar as the deaths of so many soldiers were wrapped in sacrificial imagery for a glorious cause. Ever since the Civil War, the U.S. has cast every conflict in the language and imagery of glorious sacrifice. Instead of trusting in the sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, once for all, we repeatedly sacrifice our youth on the altar of war.

It's a strange irony that it was the Confederacy who lined up along Seminary Ridge (they actually took over the seminary and used the cupola on our library as a command center). The losing side of the War and this battle were lined up with a seminary which prepares ministers for Christ's church. The slaughtered alongside the Crucified. Something to ponder going into Holy Week.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The collective sigh of relief

After wrestling with God for 24 years, 2 years of discernment and 3 years of seminary training, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Maryland gave me their collective "thumbs up" to be ordained in June. I'm soooooo excited to finally get to this point, but there is some trepidation about stepping through that doorway. What will lie beyond it? I'm not sure. I'm in conversation with my bishop and a congregation about a call, but I can't say anything until we have a contract in place (so it's "shhhhhh" for now).

I do have mixed feelings about moving on. I was online yesterday with our interns from LTSG and they were talking about how it will be hard to leave their internship sites, but they are looking forward to coming back to seminary and seeing everyone again. It then became very real to me that these wonderful people I entered seminary with (and struggled through Greek with!) are going back next year ... but I won't be there with them. The reality that I won't be there is sinking in ... and I'm sad about that.

How do you say "good-bye" when you don't get a chance to? Saying "good-bye" is the part of ministry that is necessary ... but it's not easy. How do you do it gracefully?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sie spracht die HOB

The House of Bishops has finished their meeting at Camp Allen and I, for one, salute them. After months of hand wringing over what our church would do post-Windsor, post-General Convention '06, post-Dromantine, post-Dar Es Salaam, we now have a statement that clearly says we are not willing to sacrifice the freedom of the generous orthodoxy which has characterized the Anglican way for some 500 years. Requiring the Episcopal Church to enact a "Primatial Pastoral Scheme" which would put our Church under the authority of a board made up dominantly of foreign bishops is absurd. No other church has ever been asked to submit to this kind of foreign oversight before and it is not the Anglican way.

Most certainly, the more conservative members of our Church need alternate pastoral oversight; however, we can, and should, work this through internally. I do not believe our PB is unreasonable and she is aware that there are those who cannot accept her leadership either because of her theology or her gender. We do not need the incursion of foreign bishops deciding what we should or should not do in the American context. What might that look like if we demanded a "Primatial Pastoral Scheme" be put into place for the GLBT community persecuted in the Church of Nigeria? Can you imagine Archbishop Akinola accepting that for the Nigerian church? How about we nominate +Gene Robinson to chair that "Pastoral Scheme?" Wouldn't that be received well!

We continue to pray for our church and its leaders. Thankfully, there is a line in the sand they are not willing to cross.