Tag Archives: Episcopal Church

being a gracious loser

The results are in…and I was not elected to vestry this year.

As expected, I feel a mix of sadness & relief.

I am relieved because, as anyone who knows me can attest, I’m not a ” meetings” sort of person. I also do not ” politic” very well nor  am I gifted with the ability to blarney.  I am, however, very creative & a ” can-do” person . But, it was not God’s Will for me to serve on vestry this year & that is fine with me.

I am sad because I lost. Losing is not something I do well—as I come from a long line of athletic, competitive people.

Yet tonight I keep reminding myself that serving the Church is not at all about ME. I know that but at the same time it *REALLY* sucks for this ” can-do” personality to lose anything. I know it isn’t a competition & I shouldn’t feel at all like I just lost a bid for Student Government President.

I received a nice private note via Facebook from a parishioner who said she’d voted for me  because she felt honestly that i would be a good vestryperson. THAT meant a lot to me, especially coming from a parishioner whom I respect.

So yeah— I lost.  Maybe God is saying to me” You are not ready for vestry just yet.” Or maybe not.

We learned about the concept of ” karios” during my Cursillio weekend.  Karios=God’s Time.

Gloria en excelsis Deo!

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When God calls…

God has been loudly knocking on the window of my mind for about 6 months.  God is calling me to a ministry that I’ve vehemently denied answering  since I was confirmed into The Episcopal Church.

I am running for vestry. Unless  two other people runs with or against me I’ll sit on vestry for three years.  Since I already told my priest of my intentions , I cannot back out of this now. { even if I’d wanted to, which I do not}

I am apolitical & until now have *NEVER* seriously considered vestry.  But now is the time.  Although I do not wish to sound arrogant: I feel that someof my gifts will be useful on a parish { any parish} vestry.

I am— comparatively speaking– younger than the average vestryperson. Younger people tend to be more open to what the Spirit might be saying at any time. I have taught Sunday School & I work with youth currently & some of my biggest ” aha moments” have come from conversation with younger people.  Some of the children with whom I worked are much more spiritually-mature than some adults I know.

I care. I care  A LOT.

Although there is nothing wrong with ” pew sitters”{You know– people who attend church almost every Sunday but are otherwise not involved in parish life.} I’ve never been a pew sitter in my life.  The Church is my community, my OHANA. {Hawaiian for ” family”}I want to help her be the best example of Christ’s ” hands & feet” that she can be.

While I am not a ” numbers person” I feel strongly that doing God’s work & measuring how well we do ministry should NOT be calculated only by numbers on a spreadsheet.

My entire church-going life has been with small churches & it is here that I’ve felt God’s Hands at work within me the most.  Although I left the Presbyterian church, I’ve gleaned examples of what does & does not work in a small congregation.

The little church where I was baptized taught me much about doing much to BE Christ in the world regardless of limited human & monetary resources.  The Holy Spirit is working within my Small Parish now & I firmly believe that I am the sort of vestryperson needed to help her grow numerically & { much more importantly} spiritually.

Shalom.

Healing & Helping while looking towards to the future

My bishop issued a pastoral letter that was read in all churches in my diocese yesterday. He explained what had happened at General Convention and how he voted , alongside with his reasoning for the way he voted. He also told us how this resolution to allow liturgy for same-sex blessings will ” play out” here in my Diocese .

I am saddened by the actions of General Convention, as this is affecting people in my parish & diocese whom I know & love . Inasmuch as I find myself disagreeing with people who are shaken by the idea of same-sex couples now having a channel for the Church’s blessing upon their relationships, I want them to still feel loved by the changing Church. It will break my heart if I lose ANY of my sister & brother Episcopalians over what { to me} is a trivial issue. I want to minister to and with these folks, but I do not know how to proceed.

I am sad, because I want to help those who are hurt the most by he passing of this resolution but I cannot.

While I rejoice at the fact that a portion of our Church will finally be permitted to have their relationships blessed in the Church, my main concern is how this motion affects my parish & Diocese NOW. I realize that not everyone interprets Scripture & Tradition as I do & know that this passing of the same-sex blessing liturgy has shaken some people’s very faith. I pray for them & for our entire Church I pray daily that somehow God will show us how to BE Christ’s hands & feet here at this time & place .

Amen.

Day 10:It is finished{ General Convention 77 , that is..}

General Convention #77 is over.

I saw a Facebook post from my friend “Spankey , who served as a clergy deputy to this GC{ and to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for keeping we Episco-geeks in the know of the GC happenings.THANK YOU!} The deputies & bishops are all returning to their own dioceses tonight or tomorrow. although I only experienced GC77 vicariously via the Internet, it was also a life-changing step in my personal faith journey. I’ve met several fine ” tweeps” from GC { as well as using my Twitter account more than I’ve ever used it since I reluctantly signed up}

I’ve prayed a lot–mostly I’ve prayed { and will continue to pray} for our Church universal. This General Convention made some historic { and I believe important} inroads to be truly inclusive & for that I applaud our GC. But some of these resolutions that passed both houses in GC are & will continue to be controversial for our Church. Mostly I’ve prayed for unity & a continued discussion of these controvesial resolutions. Only time will tell.

Yesterday I saw that the local newsrag ran a very short, generic Associated Press piece on one of the resolutions passed. The newsrag failed to contact our Bishop for an accurate explanation on how this decision will affect parishes in this Diocese. The national & International news media were no better–if not worse in their slanted & inaccurate misinformation regarding this particular resolution.

I am PROUD of our Deputation & Bishop for representing us this triennium. From what my FB friends & tweeps who were there reported daily, GC is a grueling fe days of meetings, presentations and { of course} worship. We are blessed to be par of a Church who allows for persons of all orders{ laity, deacon, priest & bishop} to participate in the democratic decision making

After GC77: Onward Together

If you have read or listened to the news media this morning, you are aware that the Church voted to allow liturgy for same-sex blessings { a BLESSING is not the same thing as a marriage, by the way} for same-sex couples.

I actually read the news via Twitter from a clergy Twitter pal of mine who was a deputy to GC77 last evening. I’ve had some time for this news to ” sink in” my mind. I know I should be celebrating the social progress the Church has made this year, but part of me is weary. I am wary of the backlash that this new resolution will bring both nationally & within my own Diocese.

I know, at last in theory, that the Church shall move onward, regardless of the bellyache that will surely occur among the right-wing faction of our Church. I am praying that we can ALL remember that we are ONE universal Church. I stated last night that belief in our Creeds is what SHOULD be he most important factor in any Church. But humans being who we are, sociopolitical opinions are a powerful force. I pray that the Church can move beyond this GC resolution and remember that being Church is not supposed to be about self-affirmation. Christians of various stripes are united by one thing, our faith in the knowledge that Jesus of Nazareth was born , lived and was killed on a cross and rose from the dead three days later.

We do not attend church in order to validate our own sense of what is “acceptable”. Look in all the Gospels, Jesus tells us to withhold judgement lest we also be judged. No one is perfect, nor is anyone correct about anything 100 percent of the time.

We re the Church & we will continue to do & be Church.

Day 8: Praying and waiting

As I sit here on a rainy Tuesday afternoon I am very much aware that there is a vote happening at General Convention 77 that , to some people, is of utmost importance. { you all know which vote , I do not need to elaborate }

At the figurative and literal end of the day, the Church will go on the way she has been for 2000 years. It is by the grace of God & through the work of the Holy Spirit that Christianity survives. I must remind myself that ALL Christians, regardless their stances on social issues, are truly about following Jesus Our Lord and Savior.

What is imperative to me is if a person truly believes what we say in our Creeds{ Nicaean an Apostles’ Creeds}
In my mind, the heart of Christianity cannot be defined by one social worldview and/or political party { sorry, Republican sisters & brothers— the GOP did not exist in 1st century Judea. Logic says that Jesus could not have been a Republican}

We are all trying hard to follow Jesus, but oftentimes our egos & sense of self-righteousness inhibits our progress on our walk with God.

Remember, God works through ALL of us. God does not care of we are liberal or conservative, God only asks that we love God and{here is the tricky part…drumroll please} Love our neighbors as ourselves. Nowhere does God say that we must agree with our brothers & sisters in Christ. We are to LOVE them as God loves us.

Those who have been charged with serving as deputies to General Convention 77 are all faithful Christians. We’ve elected them o do this task at this time & in that place{ Indianapolis}Pray fr them this night.

God Bless y’all.

Amen.

Day 6 and 7: About Primates

No, I am not discussing monkeys & other furry bipeds here. The bishop in charge of a particular church within the Anglican Communion is called a primate . {Prime= first}

In today’s Episcopal News Service report from GC77, it said that the deputies passed a resolution allowing for future Presiding Bishops to also maintain his or her position of diocesan bishop during the nine-year term as Presiding Bishop.

I cannot understand why this was passed nor the logic associated with wanting to adopt this practice. But since this resolution will never affect MY life n the Church, I do not have much to say on this topic.

General Convention worshipped together yesterday with a Mass led & celebrated by our current Presiding Bishop, ++Katharine Jefferts-Schori. I heard from a deputy from my diocese that the Mass was wonderful. ++ Katharine’s homily appeared online on the official GC77 website & I read it yesterday afternoon.

Also, the Episcopal Camps & Conference Centers presented ++Katharine & her husband, Richard a ” Hero of CAmping” award . One of the reasons why I adore ++ Katharine is the fact of her committment to a healthy lifestyle full o exercise . I read somewhere that she runs an insane amount of miles EVERY DAY! Wow! Although I am not much of a camping enthusiast, I do love spending days in the Creation that is the outdoors.

In other official convention business, our own Vince C was re-elected to the Church Pension Fund.

My Twitter feed pretty much is *all* about GC77 lately & I’m LOVING being part of this triennial conversation ” from the pews”.

Shalom, y’all.

Days 3 & 4: ” I dream of a Church that…..”

I dream of a Church that….

… Does not forget the God of the Old Testament, but practices its communal life according to the teachings of Jesus as seen in the New Testament.

….Recognizes that both men & women are called to all levels of Holy Orders.

….A Church that is truly one catholic { “small-c”} church that is free from schism or the threat of schism.

….Where we are more focused on living the message of the Gospel & less about using Holy Scripture as a weapon against women & minorities.

….A Church where ALL have access to basic Christian education that is free from any sociopolitical slanting towards the extreme right-wing sector of the political spectrum.

… I dream of a Church where people do not wish to restrict financial giving so that our financial resources can make the most impact by spreading the Gospel in more ways & in more places.

… I dream of a Church that validates & celebrates all forms of families.

…. Church should be less about institutional government & more about ACTION in the world. We should be more concerned with feeding the hungry, helping to heal the sick, and engaging in interfaith dialog than arguing about doctrine .

What is the Church that YOU dream of How can we make that Church a reality in the near future?

Day 1: Baptism & Holy Communion.

Today the bishops & deputies will convene in Indianapolis, Indiana for the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. There is a whole list of resolutions that the Church as a whole must consider this year & some seem to be more ” hot-button” issues than most .

My big concern is the resolution put forth by someone in Oregon that the Holy Communion be totally open to all persons regardless of baptismal status.{ i.e unbaptized persons may receive the Body & Blood of our LORD if they so desire.}

As progressive as I am regarding the Church & social issues, when he subject turns to liturgy I am very traditional. Let me say ‘on record’ that if General Convention votes to change the canons to completely open Holy Communion to unbaptized persons I will be sad.

However, my strong feelings about this liturgical & theological matter will NOT cause me to abandon our Church. The Church is composed of imperfect people & we must allow our leaders to make mistakes without acting on cowardice & running away from our family of faith. If GC votes to open Holy Communion to unbaptized persons, I will quietly live with that change. I will never agree with such a radical change to my understanding of our Baptismal Covenant but I can live wth it.

While I vehemently disagree with the logic behind this resolution, I can see where the people who wish to pass it are coming from. I, too, hope & pray for an inclusive Church. But being a Christian requires some sort of statement of faith & when an unbaptized adult wishes to become a Christian I believe that baptism in necessary for a full membership in the Church.

Inasmuch as I hate to admit it: I hope that the delegates to GC77 vote to uphold our Canons as they are regarding baptism & reception of Holy Communion. There are many reasons why I feel this way.

I do not understand why someone who has never professed belief that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed God’s only begotten Son wish to partake in our sacrament? My mother is Jewish & she has absolutely no desire to come to the altar for even a blessing by the priest on the rare occasions she attends Mass with me.

I do not understand why a non-Christian would want to actively participate in something that is so central to our identities as Christ-followers. My theology of the Eucharist stems from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last Supper with His disciples { and yes, I * am* aware that the Last Supper was a Jewish Passover meal.}

At that particular time & place, Scripture tells us :
” Then He took a cup & after giving thanks He said ‘ Take this & divide it among ourselves, for I tell you that from now on I will not drink from the vine until the Kindom of God comes. Then He took a loaf of bread & when He had given thanks, broke it & gave to them saying ‘This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance o Me.'”. { Luke 22:17-19}

To Christians, the elements presented for a blessing at the altar become more than the sum of their parts. To us, partaking in Holy Communion is done to remember what Jesus did for s so many years ago. It is a visceral reminder that WE are Christ’s Body on Earth. While we pry that ALL may come to know about Our LORD, in my opinion baptism is something that one must prepare one’s heart & mind. Our Baptism seals us as Christ’s own forever–thing we do an ever remove us from the family of Christ one we’ve received the Christian rite of initiation at Baptism.

I am not saying that we should discourage seekers from coming to church. Quite the opposite: if a seeker comes to one of our parishes & is so moved by the Celebration of The Eucharist, he or she has an option to ask the resident priest to tell him or her more about what it means to BE a member of Christ’s Body { a Christian}

One Body , but many parts. Honor ALL.

St Paul’s first letter to the people of Corinth is my favorite epistle for several reasons. Chapel 12 & 12 of this letter speak especially to me when I find myself in a myriad of situations.

This upcoming General convention has me thinking about the Church as one complete Body with our various member with different funtions. Without these functions, the Church cannot survive. We need each other. Like it or no, Christians are connected & we Anglican Christians are woven even tighter together by Tradition and Liturgy. To me, claiming my Anglican identity is more about how our Church worships than what her positions are on various controversial modern issues.

As an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, the ancient liturgy employed by Anglicans throughout the world is much mor an identifying factor than any resolution that may or may not arise from General Convention. Yet I am aware that some people feel otherwise–that the Church’s sociopolitical stances ar much more identifying than are our ancient sacramental heritage. A priest whom I admire taught me that our Anglican identity is a ” three-legged stool of SCRIpTURE, TRADTION & REASON. Amen.

In chapter 12, Paul writes to the Church :
“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” {1 Corinth 12:26}

The bottom line is: Christians need to put aside our petty differences of opinion & get to work bringing healing to the sick, food to the hungry clothing & shelter to the naked and homeless , ect.

The Kingdom of God on earth is diverse. Humans tend to prefer fellowship & worship with those whose sociopolitical ideas agree with theirs. Arguing over theology and/or ” morality” among people in the Church is nothing new.

Each one of us Christ-followers comes to faith from different backgrounds. Variants such as when & where we were born can radically affect a person’s views of everything, including the Church. I come from a VERY progressive home that saw next to no organized religion. Mom is wha she calls a ” secular Jew” & Dad is a fallen away { but baptized & confirmed } Roman Catholic.

Yes, in the world of Harry Potter I would be considered a ” Muggle” & of that mixed heritage I am proud.

My younger brother & I were taught to respect ALL faith paths & cultures, even though we came of age in a very backwards-thinking part of the nation. There were no other Jewish children in my high school class and my brother{ who attended a different high school in the city} had only one Jewish friend.

When I went away to college for the first time, I was introduced to the fact that som people are homosexual. This puzzled me{ and still does, if I’m honest about such things} but since I grew up in a home that accepts people’s differences it is easy for me to embrace my GLBT friends & family members. My brother married a lovely bi-racial woman whom I am proud to have in my family. Racism & heterosexism were not issues in my family of origin & for that I am grateful to my parents. This has not been easy for yours truly a uber progressive { Note that I say PROGRESSIVE, not liberal}

In the 14 years that I’ve lived on the Gulf Coast, I’ve met some fabulous people with opposite sociopolitical views than those with which I wa raised. As I’ve grown in faith, I’ve learned to accept them & where they came from in their walk with Christ. It has not been easy— as I do not understand many of the view of my more socially static frinds. But, by the grace of God, I am learnig to appreciate from where their ideas come—even though I totally do not agree with them.