Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finishing out the month

Change. Endings. Life goes on.

Later this morning, my old church will have its last service at its present location. It coincides with Fr. X's last service with this congregation.

Hmmm...

Such a tumultuous time in the preceding months. Now things are changing, ending. This is real.

I don't feel called to go back, and yet there is a sad wistfulness -- a wish that things could have ended on a better note. But maybe this was the only way things could end. The situation was just too highly charged for anyone involved. Perhaps God just had to bring things to a screeching halt.

I hope that someday there will be a way to rewrite the ending to this tale, to make this a more peaceful ending.

But life does go on. And I see opportunities for growth at my present church that weren't available at my old one. More opportunities to serve God and other people. And at least for now, a kind of sheltering from church drama that I really need right now.

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on. Be blessed!



And a little bonus track...

Monday, August 17, 2009

And This Is Why I Need to Take Notes During the Sermon

First, I need to introduce a new "character" in the blog: "Father Z", assistant rector of my church. Yeah, I know these are really cheesy pseudonyms, but I'm too lazy to think of "real" fake names.

Anyway, I left church Sunday thinking, "Wow! That was a really great sermon!" And, sorry to say this, Fr. Z, but while I still remember some key points, the particulars of why I thought it was really great have faded away. Some people have a memory like a steel trap. Mine is more like a steel sieve.

I do remember the link between the Old Testament prohibition against consuming blood and the New Testament story of Christ saying that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life within. We have sanitized this story so much that it's reduced to symbols. When Jesus said it, however, it wasn't a symbol that He was talking about. That's what made it so scandalous to the people who had heard Him.

Anyway...I'll take notes next Sunday. Then I'll have something a bit more concrete than a feeling that I had heard Something Important.

Blessings,
E

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Great Western Heresy

Many people have criticized that phrase from Katherine Jefferts-Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

What she was referring to was the idea that salvation is God's gift to us as individuals, independent of anyone else. Here's a quote from her address to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church:
"...The overarching connection in all these crises has to do with the great Western Heresy - that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of all being. That heresy is one reason for the theme of this Convention."
I have mixed feelings about that. I believe that salvation is both an individual and communal event. As individuals, we are each given free will and the responsibility to choose a right relationship with God. But we do not experience the fullness of this gift except in community with other believers.

As I promised, I'll quote more from Bishop Frey's book, The Dance of Hope:
"Any authentic recovery of hope will take place in community with other people...the New Testament word for community is koinonia. It means 'a deep sharing of life marked by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit'."
Our churches are supposed to be the places where we find this deep sharing of life. Unfortunately, we often fall short of this ideal in our actual experience. "However," Bp. Frey continues, "a deeper awareness of just what the church is designed to be (emphasis mine) is the prerequisite for enabling it to become what it really is."

What would the ideal faith community look like? You might think about it. I'm going to.

Blessings,
E


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cheering for God

Just something cute from the grandson, S, who is nearly two.

At church today, he would cheer "Yay!" after each song, and cheered again after the final blessing.

Quite appropriate, I think.

After all, isn't "Alleluia" just another way of saying "Yay God!"?

Yay!

Getting Out of the "Holy Huddle"

I liked Fr. Y's sermon this morning. Using a football metaphor, he challenged us to get out of the "holy huddle" and do something with our faith. Pretty much what James said in his letter:
James 2:18 "But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.'"
The medieval notion of sin, curvatos en se, is a dangerous condition I find myself leaning toward, being a reflective person by nature. I could easily spin my wheels in endless circles, pondering ponderous thoughts, and doing nothing to serve Christ -- indeed, to be Christ to someone who would have not experienced His love otherwise. We are to go out and make disciples, not in order to isolate ourselves in comfortable "holy huddles," but to go out and execute the play.

Executing the play is both exciting and uncomfortable, because when we go out to do what we need to do, there is the possibility that something may go wrong, that things may not always go our way. But we can't -- I can't -- let that stop us from stepping out in faith.

There are people out there, in our midst, who need to truly know Christ. Don't let getting stuck in the "holy huddle" keep them -- and us -- from doing so.

Amen.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Best $12.99 + Tax I Ever Spent

A few years ago, I bought the book, The Dance of Hope, by William C. Frey, currently the Assisting Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. Here's a link for more information about him: Bp. Frey

I've re-read the book, and found so much that I want to reflect on, that I thought I'd share it here on the blog with you.

I'll start with a brief one, since I'm typing this in the wee hours.

From the chapter entitled "Unnatural Acts":
"I always tell people that if they really want to commit an unnatural sexual act, they should get married and remain faithful to their spouse ''til death do us part.'"
Something to think about...more to come.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Addendum

I'd like to add that while I speak of "my" church, it is actually "our" church, as both my husband R and I are members. However, since this is a blog of my journey, I will most often refer to our church as "my" church.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Turning the Corner

Gentle Readers,
Wow. When we let God heal, it's amazing how quickly we can experience it. Since letting go of so much that I thought I couldn't, God has filled the void with so many blessings -- new opportunities, new friends, deeper relationships with old friends, and deeper relationships with my husband and family.

My new church is gradually becoming simply MY church. That is, I have allowed myself to be accepted into this community and now feel that I am truly part of it. Today some friends and my husband visited my church. I wanted to be a good host and hoped that they had as good an experience as I did. It was as if I was hosting a visit to my house, my home. It felt good to hear them say good things about my church, because I so wanted them to be welcomed into it.

I've had to humble myself and accept that I'm not a big fish in a small pond. I'm in a bigger pond, and I'm a much smaller fish in it. That's OK. There's still a lot to learn, and I certainly don't need to experience another meteoric rise and fall. I'll do what I've been called to do -- tend to the altar, sing, read, assist in Communion -- and be a good host to those who visit.

I'd like to revise something I told Fr. Y and my friends. I had said that I wouldn't let anyone get in the way of what God's called me to do. That's not correct. Here's what I should have said: God won't let anyone or anything get in the way of what He's called me to do.

As with everything else: if it is of God, it will be a success. If not, then it won't.

I hope that the time will come when true reconciliation will happen with some members of my old church. But I also have to accept that it might not happen until we meet in the presence of God in Heaven. My decision is to forgive -- them and myself. Feelings come and go -- but this decision is here to stay.

Be blessed,
E

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Child

Something that seems fitting for this season of my spiritual life -- I wrote it four years ago after another church move, but it seems even more appropriate now.

She finds herself in a new home.
The tormenting blows are gone,
and yet,
she cannot rest.

She likes it here
with her new family.
They embrace her as their own.
But she longs for those she left behind:
her playmates,
her dog,
her room,
the parent who crushed her trusting heart.

She likes it here
with her new family.
She basks in their warm affection.
She quietly bears her hidden wounds
as they slowly, painfully heal.

She likes it here
with her new family.
And yes –

She will love again.

(2005)