Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Original Sin

I often find myself in conversation with people who think that not only is Church is irrelevant, but that Sin is just some guilt trip being foisted on "mindless" people by the Church. Their argument continues along the lines of the "human potential for enlightenment" being the key answer to all of our social "problems" (i.e. Sin). As humanity moves towards a more enlightened state, we will naturally evolve our way into being a better society. Sounds good, in theory.

But I wonder why humanity seems to be unable or incapable of evolving this enlightened state? Based on our society's propensity for repeating the same mistakes, you would have thought we might have learned something by now - at least to evolve just a little.

Consider the eerie parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq Wars. In both conflicts, our government leaders selectively heard what they wanted to hear and, when facts didn't support their claims, they resorted to outright lies to justify war. In Vietnam it was the fabrication of the Gulf of Tonkin affair, in Iraq it was WMDs. Sins of violence and war can be traced all the way back to the Bible and beyond. How ironic is it that we who are created in the image of God are the only ones who make war? If we can evolve our way to enlightenment, wouldn't the self-interest of our own self-preservation have made that happen by now??!!

Original Sin is our self-centered, narcissistic desire to be god rather than humbling ourselves to the one true God. We would rather call the shots and do our own thing. Our inherent selfish narcissism doesn't want our motives or reasons called into question because any questioning we perceive as a personal attack on us. Our natural tendency is to justify ourselves any way we can rather than admit we are wrong because admitting we are wrong is admitting we are not god.

The Church (note the capital "C" - the universal Church not a particular congregation) was given the "antidote" to Original Sin. It is confession (rooted in the divine gift of humility), repentance (the means to turn back to God) and absolution (the assurance of God's complete forgiveness). This "antidote" isn't permanent, but it is available to us whenever we need it - and we need it regularly.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What a long strange trip it's been ...

Well, it's official - I'm no longer "Almost Reverend" ... "the reverend is in the house!" I was ordained along with two other amazing gentlemen, Tim Grayson and Dion Thompson, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Baltimore today.

What an amazing service! It was classic Anglican "smells, bells and yells" - and an awesome site it was. Our daughters were torchbearers and our oldest got to ring the sanctus bell during the prayer of consecration. They handled the incense during the Gospel procession like old pros, even though it was their first exposure "up close and personal" to the smoke.

It really struck me how much our daughters prepared me for this day. Not just from their support and patience as I sweated out the many exegetical papers and the dreaded General Ordination Exams. It was more than that. It was the reality that being a parent taught me the meaning of being a "servant to all." Parenthood taught me to put myself aside for the sake and welfare of another. It hasn't been easy and I can't say I've always been "super mom" who suppresses all her identity for the sake of her children (and I'm not sure that's healthy anyway). But there is something in learning how to move at a different rhythm when your life revolves around having a baby, then a toddler, then a pre-schooler, then an elementary schooler, and now (for our oldest) a middle-schooler.

It's learning to be present rather than rushing to whatever comes next. It's learning that now is the most real and precious thing God gives us. It's getting outside my own head to give myself to something outside myself and not knowing quite how it will all turn out, but placing my trust in God that it will turn out ok.

I learned this from our children and I'll be a better deacon (and eventually priest) for it.