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August 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

...the way of love.


There is a Pentecost ruach Spirit blowing through the Episcopal Church and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s emphasis on being the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement is no small part of that, in fact is probably the impetus for it. Referring to the The Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life that he mentioned at the opening Eucharist of General Convention last month, Curry states that “In the first century, Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called ‘church’ or ‘Christian,’ this Jesus Movement was simply called ‘the way.’”

 

 

What might flow out of such a Jesus Movement can take many forms, but as you can see from the graphic, the framework for this Way is:

  • Turn: Pause, listen, and choose to follow Jesus.
  • Learn: Reflect on Scripture each day, especially Jesus’ life and teachings.
  • Pray: Dwell intentionally with God each day.
  • Worship: Gather in community weekly to thank, praise, and draw near God.
  • Bless: Share faith and unselfishly give and serve.
  • Go: Cross boundaries, listen deeply, and live like Jesus.
  • Rest: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, and restoration.

 

As Bishop Curry stated, today our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, growing more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives and bearing witness in and for the world to this way of being, the way of love.

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July 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

Intentional evangelism, hospitality and connectedness: that is transformational ministry!


Last month I attended an evangelism conference called Invite, Welcome, Connect at my former seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee. It was billed as “a transformational ministry that equips and empowers clergy and lay leaders to cultivate intentional practices of evangelism, hospitality, and connectedness rooted in the Gospel imperative to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19).” Maybe you noticed that the conference was not just for clergy; it was for lay people, too - for Episcopalians - from all across the country. Intentional evangelism, hospitality and connectedness: that is transformational ministry! And it is ministry in which we all can share, indeed all can and must share for the sake of the Gospel. By the time of your reading this, I will already have made reference to this, at the very least in a sermon. But in case you missed it, here I want to reiterate the importance of it and let you know you will be hearing more - we will actually be doing more - about and with this, so think about where the Holy Spirit may be calling and empowering you as the fall activity level picks back next month.

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June 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

My Struggle or Our Struggle?


So here’s what I’ve been wrestling with a bit personally and talking some about with the Vestry. Besides the normal responsibilities of being your rector, do I have a larger role to play in embracing the Spirit’s power to breathe life into and through the Church? For example, a common buzzword among church leadership is “entrepreneurial,” meaning being innovative and creative with being the Church in the 21st century, especially since we are in the midst of a seismic cultural shift that we don’t know how to respond to (often termed “post-Christendom,” or life after the Church as it has been known in its modern institutional form). The flip-side of that is trying (with marginal success) to maintain the status quo - basically just trying to offer palliative care to an ailing church.

 

I know that I am called to be a parish priest - not a chaplain or CEO or some other adjunct ministry. But I’ve been wondering if I am making a big enough impact, not only on the parish, but in our larger Church, and how that intersects with my calling - if being a parish priest is enough and why I sometimes feel it is not, but maybe should be.

 

At the same time, I have been pulled more and more lately into feeling the need to be more visible and vocal about issues of social justice. It’s not that I don’t do that at all; I do, in sermons and forums and other areas. But my struggle is finding and walking the line between being a prophetic voice (and calling the Church - not just me - to be a prophetic voice), but being cognizant that I represent St. Paul’s and we have a broad spectrum of social and political perspectives here, so wanting to be true to the Church’s calling while not introducing division and dissention within the church, especially when that line is both fine and fluid.

 

So what do you think? - entrepreneurial vs palliative care, impact vs enough, prophetic voice vs division. My struggle or our struggle?

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May 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

Here's Your Word for the Day: Ruach


Take a deep breath.  Here is your word for the day: ruach.  Say it to yourself out loud: ruach (pron. roo-ahk).  It’s a Hebrew (original Old Testament language) word meaning wind, breath, or spirit - the word that was used at the very beginning of Genesis when the ruach of God moved over the waters and God breathed creation into existence.  The Greek (original New Testament language) word is pneuma (from whence we get our word pneumatic, denoting air pressure), as we see when Jesus, in his post-resurrection appearances, breathes the Holy Spirit (the ruach) upon the disciples so that they would be empowered by that Spirit to successfully carry on with his ministry.

May 20 is Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, a major feast day in the Church when we hear the story noted above and hear the gospel read in different languages (based on one of the other readings for that day).  I have been praying constantly for the Spirit, the ruach, of God to blow through St. Paul’s, among its leadership and its people.  I’m sure you’re getting a bit tired of hearing me go on about the declining participation in the Church - not just St. Paul’s or the Episcopal Church, but the Church in general, but the fact is, that is the reality we are struggling with.  As Bishop Jennifer noted when she was here on Palm Sunday, this is our biggest challenge, and yet, as she noted previously, we have everything we need here at St. Paul’s.  We do worship well; we offer formation opportunities of depth; we do very well with pastoral care and outreach and stewardship of our various resources.  We do good work and should continue, but the reality of the Church not being the center of the universe anymore is straining our ability to proclaim the good news of God in Christ.

We really have only one option, assuming we would like for there to be an Episcopal presence in Columbus for the foreseeable future.  That option is for every single member of St. Paul’s, every person baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, to be touched by the ruach of God - to have Jesus breath the Holy Spirit into you - so that you are empowered by that Spirit to carry on with Jesus’ ministry.  It can’t just be me and it can’t just be the Vestry and me.  It takes every one of us.  So take a deep breath, invite the ruach of God to blow through you and the whole Church, and celebrate Pentecost with a renewed spirit.

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April 1, 2018, 12:00 AM

As we celebrate the Resurrection this month, we’re trying something new!


As we celebrate the Resurrection this month, we’re trying something new!  On Sunday, April 29, we will have one service that day (a fifth Sunday in the month) in a “Rite III” format.  Rite III, you ask?  I know we do Rite I at 8:00 and Rite II at 10:15, but I’ve never heard of Rite III.  What’s that?  Technically, there is no such thing as Rite III, but it is the reference we use when we use An Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist on pp. 400-01 in the Book of Common Prayer.  This Order (or “Rite III”) follows the general outline and structure of the regular familiar services and includes the same content, but, except for the words of consecration, it is far less prescriptive of exactly what that content should be (for example, the words we use to begin worship or for Prayers of the People or the breaking of bread) and may include a broader spectrum of those assisting in Eucharistic preparation, including children.  It could utilize material from others within the broader Anglican tradition, for example, from Hispanic or African Provinces or the New Zealand Prayer Book.  Music will also be more expansive that our usual Hymnal 1982 or even Wonder, Love and Praise, for example, spirituals from Lift Every Voice and Sing or from other cultures.

Up until General Convention 2015, this order (or “Rite III”) was “not intended for use the principal Sunday or weekly celebration of Holy Eucharist,” (BCP p. 400).  However, a resolution at that year’s General Convention removed that restriction, allowing a much greater degree of flexibility within the conduct of the service that may better suit the circumstances or ethos of a particular congregation while still maintaining the integrity of the service itself.  As we continue to grapple with realities and explore ways of being the Episcopal Church in the 21st century, we will see how this is experienced by those in attendance and, if well-received, will likely continue the practice whenever a fifth Sunday occurs (usually four times throughout the year).

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