Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Reflection #2

I'm not going to post this week's reflecction because of some confidentiality issues. Suffice to say, it's been interesting. Don't worry, I'm back in the states and just a little banged up. More to follow.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Reflection Group

Had my first reflection group last night. Thankfully it was very constructive and helpful. Lots of respect in the group. Found out I'm not supposed to preach, bummer. Maybe I can lead a class or something. I need to get started on my next reflection. I'm thinking about writing about the neighborhood church. Our Saviour is trying to make theirs a neighborhood church but struggling. I've always been a part of suburban churches, where community is chosen, not by default geography.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You're it...

When my daughter was within a few days of being born, it finally dawned on me that I was the person who would be the dad. Sounds silly I know. But, I wasn't going to improve dramatically, or mature in the next few days and become an adult super-dad. I'm it, this is what a dad looks like.

I think it's the same for everybody. God calls us to our various vocations and that's it. God doesn't what us to improve ourselves then follow. God wants us to simply follow.

When Jesus called the first disciples he said "Follow me." And they did, they literally dropped what they were doing and followed. Imagine if Jesus said "Follow me, but after you've lost that spare tire, and sussed out your theology, and clean the kichen too." I think I actually would prefer that, because then I'd never have to actually get around to seeing what God wants me to be doing.

You're it, we're it, God bless us, we're not going to change all that much on our own.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hittin' the Pub

Last night I met with my parish placement supervisor, Father John Bolton. We ate in pub in Virginia Highlands. He outlined some things he wants me to do: reading this week, chalice bearing next week, and preaching in September! I'll be posting the reading and the beginning of my meditations soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Reflection #1-final draft

This is what I eventually sent to the PTBs. Thanks to those who offered suggestions and questions, it helped alot.

Sunday, August 19th was my first official Sunday at Our Saviour. I went to both the 8:30 and 11:00 services. The 8:30 Eucharist was Rite I with language and rubrics from the 1928 Prayer Book. The 11:00 service was Rite II with language from Rite I. Both masses were sung and had incense. I come from very informal, sometimes even charismatic, low churches and I’ve actually never been to a Rite I service.
The 8:30 service aroused in me a feeling of distance. I felt distanced from my fellow worshippers, my clergy, even God. The language was beautiful and pregnant with meaning, but the overall feel of the service left me cold. I was present intellectually, but I didn’t feel like I was a part of the worship experience. The 11:00 service stood in stark contrast to the 8:30; it was intimate, dynamic, and participatory. I left the 11:00 service feeling like “I’d been to church.”
So, why these widely varying experiences? What is being stirred up? A realization, that I’m certain is late coming, dawned on me that I’m partial to the form of worship that I’m used to. I talked with many parishioners after both services and the consensus seemed to be that whatever liturgy anyone had grown up with or first encountered was what the Church should properly be doing. Much to my belated surprise I am not immune to this attachment to liturgy.
As I’ve stated, I come from low churches, but these were also very liberal churches. In conversation at those churches, much is said, in a pitying tone, about conservatives in the church and how they need to “get over it” and “get with the times.” I now realize that I’m just another Episcopalian who is reluctant to see “my liturgy” change. For me, this is a great lesson for my discernment because it shows me that I need to be more sensitive to other people who feel threatened by the church’s changing liturgies and practices. This will be important if I become a priest because there will likely be a new prayer book in the next 30 years or so and I will have to guide people through that change.
For this issue, Mark 2:27 keeps leaping to mind, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” Here, this passage seems to be saying that liturgy was made for us, not vice versa. We must not confuse the worship for the worshipped. Liturgies change precisely because they are for us, it is important for liturgies to change because they stretch us to new directions and understandings about God. But each person is set in time; C.S. Lewis called this “chronological snobbishness”, the idea that our time, the age in which we live, is the most important time. Of course our Anglican history is nothing if not a history of change and resistance to that change
A few years ago I went to a ministry fair and took a class on discernment from John Westerhoff. He talked at great length about consolation and desolation. He was clear that desolation was our own doing; God cannot be removed from our lives. I think that this idea of desolation has to do with this issue of liturgy because, while the language and rubrics might feel strange and unfamiliar, it is still worship. If I’m “not getting it” that’s my own lack of engagement, not the liturgy’s fault. I’m left with the question though: why do I find it easy to see God in the familiar and not in the archaic and novel, when the Bible shows time and again that God works in the unfamiliar and seemingly useless?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Notes on Sola Scriptura

Primiliminary notes:

1st Tim: 3:15 "the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of truth."

Acts 15, a scene of group discernment.

What came first, the New Testament or the Church?

The Scriptures grew out of the Church. This was a revelation for me as a born Baptist.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Theological reflections

I want to use this blog as a gathering place for my friends and family to help me work through a difficult part of the discernment process. Starting this Sunday I will begin my parish placement. I need to reflect on my experiences there on a weekly basis. Specifically, I have been instructed to reflect on what emotions were stirred up, they give sadness, anxiety, and anger as examples, then I am to do a theological reflection on the event. A theological reflection is a way to engage in processing an issue through the lens of one's spiritual tradition.

I hope to post each TR on Sunday night to the blog which will give two days for comments and input before I have to send it to my group leaders on Tuesday.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and support.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A psychology of transformation

I had a conversation with my priest tonight, Mother Rita,, we talked about my frustration in talking with psychologists and others whereby my personality type, ENFP on the Myers-Briggs scale, was used repeatedly to explain all manners of my behavior. Now it is my experience, and reading of many mystcs, Christian, Zen, and Vedanta, that the personality is a shell, a narrow tube which we mediate experience through. A relationship with God has a way of transforming that narrow view. Spirituality is always a process of unlearning the narrowness that our conditioning and ourselves have set upon us. I invite any comments...


I'm reading two very different books right now: Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom. This book is enlightening because it talks about prayer in ways I've never thought of. Less words and practice than orientation of the mind. More on this one as I digest it.

I'm also reading The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. High fantasy at its best. I think this book might be better than Tolkien jsut because Jordan might be a better writer. I'm always fascinated by people who create worlds. The fan base for the Wheel of Time books is rabid, I read an article ( where a fan offered to donate bone marrow for his dibilitating disease.

The book is gripping, it uses alot of the fantasy tropes but in a new way that allows you to see them all anew.

A prayer

Holy One...I have nothing that I can hold...every grace of this life is from You...Thank You for this freedom...remain with me, so that I may cling not to the things of my world but enter your kingdom, daily, unencumbered...Amen

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday morning lectio (free associated)

Matt. 15:15-28

Pretty graphic imagery from Jesus here: Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth, enters the stomach and goes into the sewers?

But these beginning verses are actually an answer to his disciples about the Pharisees, how they defile with what they say. Here is Jesus in full critique mode, he is critical of the blind adherence to the Law. Specifically he is alluding to the dietary practices for holiness, while spreading evil in words.

The mouth being...what? The gate between the inner and outer life. James talks of the tongue as the rutter of a ship, very small but it controls the entire vessel. The mouth, metaphorically, is the gate of our inner life, Jesus is saying that what goes in that gate soon is in the sewer. But what comes out of that gate is murder, adultery etc.

Silence is a good medicine. One of the Church Fathers, his name escapes me said: I've often regretted speaking, but I've never regretted being silent. Or as Mark Twain puts it: It's better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

This is a problem I have, in the discernment meetings I just keep talking and talking. I get myself into trouble because I think I need to fill the space with my voice. The truth is I want to be still and quiet most of the time, my wife and co-workers would probably laugh at this notion. The meetings I've had are fundamentally artificial because of its structure: the one leading the group, with the power of decision, asking questions and waiting for responses. Then moving on to another question. Very little discourse. Conversation cannot happen when only one person is sharing themselves. I takes on a very extravegant feel, me sitting there and just vomitting all over the room...I need to watch that...