Two weeks ago, I got an email from our campus Roman Catholic ministry inviting me to their weekly speaker series. This week, they were hosting a speaker from San Diego, a woman who had started her own affiliate of the National Organization for Marriage. She would be speaking on “Re-defining Marriage: How Same-Sex Marriage threatens Religious Liberty for all of us.” *
Tag Archives: ministry
I don’t follow football, or any sport, really, with the occasional exception for college basketball or the Olympics. (This, and a specific disregard for the Phillies and the Eagles makes my parents wonder if I was switched at birth.)
- I don’t know what ‘only-begotten’ means.
- Does ‘everlasting life’ mean literal ‘you-never-die’, or something metaphorical? (Because that actually does matter. And should be discussed/explained.)
- And how do I believe in him? (also, which him are we talking about?)
- Do I believe in the historical reality of Jesus, or something more specific, and if the latter, then what, specifically?
- And, the verse says nothing about what I should do, in the next moment. Nothing about how I should treat the woman sitting at the desk beside mine, or the guy sitting on the sidewalk outside the door, or the kid wandering down the street, who stole my GPS last year. None of that is addressed.
- Good, pithy, strong verbs, etc. Covers the ‘here’s what you do!’ aspect well. But the question format might leave some doubt as to the fact that, in fact, God does want you to do the justice, kindness, humble-walking bit.
- In reality, I’d nominate all of ch.4 in 1 John, mainly because it goes on at length about God=love. (Seriously. Read 1 John, whilst skipping over the bit about the antichrist.) But entire chapters of the Bible, especially of Johannine epistles, are not pithy.
- Again, brevity is a problem here. But it’s just so good…..
This past week, the governor of Texas released a television ad which revealed some startling and disturbing news: children can no longer celebrate Christmas openly.
In the ordination vows, as all ordained folk know, there exists an infamous line: “you are to carry out all other duties that may be assigned to you from time to time.” It’s in the Examination, during the Ordination of a Deacon, and, since ordination is an indelible mark, promises made here are boom! Permanent! It is an unassuming little promise, but as aged ordained folks will tell you, this is the promise where They Get You. This is the promise that ends, five years later, with once-chipper-young ordinand fixing the plumbing in all 5 of the church’s bathrooms and wondering what on earth happened?
It’s fall in Flagstaff. Or, more precisely, since I turned on the heat this morning, and snow (!) is forecast for tomorrow, it’s the beginning of winter.
And while that means nice stuff like pumpkin lattes, turning aspens, and my endless scarf collection, it also means, as I have learned from time in parish ministry, that people tend to die.
My mother has been a hospice nurse all my life, and so I grew up around death, and am not unfamiliar with its rhythms–people die around holidays, around days of importance to them, and around the changing of the seasons. When I was first starting out in ministry, one of the weird ideas I had was that somehow, I would get more used to this rhythm of losing people. (Then CPE happened, and that’s another story.)
Turns out, no one ever gets used to it. Each loss is unique, and that’s just all there is. In the past month, we’ve had two sudden deaths, which is tough on a community. This time, however, it was one of those stalwart couples whom everyone knew, and who died within weeks of each other.
On Sunday, I got to celebrate all three services at Epiphany, and it’s our practice to dedicate the Eucharist to the recently deceased. Usually, I don’t know the person who has died. I haven’t been here that long, and frequently, the memorialized person is a relative of a parishioner. This week, however, it was someone that I saw almost every week, sitting out in the congregation.
But using the ancient prayer for the dead (May their soul, and the souls of all the departed, rest in peace, and rise in glory), and then going into the eucharistic prayer language about how we “join with the saints and angels and all the heavenly chorus” was an interesting experience. Because now I had named one of the heavenly chorus–like watching a sporting event on TV and realizing you know someone in the massive crowd.
We’ve held onto the communion of saints idea for centuries for this reason, I suppose. It gives words to the idea that no one is really gone from our congregation–they just move positions a bit.
This week was Week Two of “What if Canterbury Got to Have Its Service in a Real, Live Church?” Experiment. Each week, this has gotten to be a smoother process by an order of magnitude. (Last week, in a process too long to go into, I discovered that three of my four on-hand Canterburians did not have driver’s licenses. Kids! All wild and crazy and lacking the ability to drive legally.)
But it never fails to amaze me how large the gap is between what the Average Congregational Episcopalian seem to expect a “college service” to look like, and what the Canterburians then deliver. From the initial conversations I had with these A.C.Es prior to the start of the 5:30pm services, I gather that many expected experimental liturgy! Wild rock music! Possibly some extemporaneous praying! But definitely drums of some kind.
Instead, the students would like a greater reliance on the Hymnal 1982, and the authorized hymnals. (Point of reference: this group doesn’t like singing Spanish hymns in translation.) They have a strict list of Rules For Music, from which I am forbidden from straying from (i.e. No folk Christian music published between the years of 1960-1998, except as approved on a case-by-case basis. Nothing that would suggest that Jesus might be anyone’s boyfriend; nothing that mandates hand gestures, but if spontaneous movement arises, that is acceptable, (aka the Macarena Paradox) etc.) They would greatly like a thurible (cheap ones can be ordered online from Mexico!) And I’m fairly certain that at some point, I’m going to end up with a handmade t-shirt that says “Rubrics are binding!” on it. And I shall wear it with pride and glee.
And all of the above is the hardest pitch I ever make in larger church gatherings. No one believes me. The conventional wisdom of “Young people don’t like traditional music/liturgy.” just won’t budge.
…and there is some truth in that. Or, more properly, some young people don’t like some liturgy done in some ways. You can no more generalize about an entire couple of generations than you can about, say, all women. Or all men. At all time, everywhere. Unless you’re a late 1990’s comedian. (In which case, my guess is your calling is not to be a leader in the church.)
Really, they like church to be church. And not church pretending to be anything else. That is what they’ve signed up for. (believe it or not.) Because there are a ton of places to go and hear folky music, or rock music. Or sit in an amphitheater and feel better about yourself.
There aren’t a whole lot of places to go and have a transcendent experience of the divine come near, connect with a tradition generations-upon-generations older than you, and be challenged to live a better life in community with those around you–some you like a lot, and some you would really ignore til the day you died.
Starbucks doesn’t quite cut it.
And remarkably, that’s what these students have signed up for, of their own free will, and cheerfully, too. They’re not there because of a societal expectation that going to church is what makes you a good person, or keeps you in tight with the ‘right’ crowd. Nope. They’re there because they want to be. Because they find something there that they are passionate about.
It’s the rest of us, maybe, who get freaked out by that.
On Saturday, I went to a lecture on Jacques Lacan and the use of metaphor and narrative in counselling situations. Because I thought it would be fun!
And, also, given the number of times I preface conversations with, “But then again, I’m postmodern, so….”, I thought brushing up on actual postmodernists would be wise.