Ok. Nobody asked me. But I almost cannot help myself.

When I worship at a church, I always seem to critique the service in my head.

This morning, Anne and I worshiped at St. James’ in Lincoln City (Oregon). We’ve been there before (and liked it). But this year they have an interim. So it was a somewhat different experience. (more…)

One of the things I take very seriously is baptism.  It is the normative practice for how we are incorporated into the Body of Christ and become Christians.  This doesn’t mean there is no other way to become a Christian.  The early Church felt that those who died for their faith before they could be baptized received a kind of baptism by blood.  Certainly there are babies who die before they are baptized (and we don’t consign them to limbo, somewhere outside of the community of faith).  Friends Meetings (Quaker Meetings) do not practice any outward and visible signs.  They are generally accepted as members of the Christian community.  (Massy Shepherd made a specific point of this back when I was in seminary.)  Still, it’s the normative practice.  It’s foundational for us. (more…)

Well, today we commemorate Augustine of Canterbury.  And I have to admit, I don’t normally think of him when I think of the Anglican via media.  But, at Gregory’s direction, rather than adhering strictly to the Roman rite, he made at least some allowance for Celtic practices that were ongoing when he arrived.  And, as our first Archbishop of Canterbury, that had to help set a tone. (more…)

Just a teaser from Dylan’s Grace Notes on theological education.  (If you want to see more after reading below, you can find it here.)  Here goes:

a radical solution re: theological education

I hear a lot of complaining about seminary education. But it’s worth noting that the complaints come mostly from a particular place. I also hear a lot of questions — from the same place — about what creative solution will solve the financial and other problems the church faces around theological education. I’ve got a radical solution, but I think it’s worth reflecting more generally for a bit first. (more…)

This is also from Episcopal Cafe’s Daily Episcopalian.  It’s by Ann Fontaine, who I knew when I was at St. Andrew’s in Meeteetsee, Wyoming (though she may not remember me).  I actually left a comment of my own on the original posting.  Anyway, here’s her article:

As Holy Week nears I see church bulletins and websites publicizing liturgies and events, welcoming others to come and participate. One of the more popular offerings is a Seder. As soon as I see this, I remember a student colleague from divinity school saying, “Why do you Christians steal our sacred rites? You have not suffered as we have suffered at your hands, yet you feel free to take our liturgies for your pleasure.”

This is similar to questions Native Americans ask when Euro-Americans hold sweat lodge ceremonies. How can those of us who have not walked the path of another tradition and lived with the oppression and violence skim off the cream of an “interesting” ritual? Doesn’t taking a ritual out of it’s cultural context cut off its roots? Rather than a living tradition, tended and shaped by history and the life around it, the ritual seems to become only the flower picked for its ability to decorate. (more…)

I read an article from the New York Times, seemingly from a religious conservative, this past week.  And the tone was along the lines that if we could just stop fixating on sexuality, maybe conservatives and liberals in the church (in the broadest sense) could focus on real Christian ministry.  Jeremiah talked about the real sin of Sodom being their unwillingness to share what they had with those in need.  And conservatives have begun to focus, perhaps, less on their personal faith, and more on living up to the gospel.  They have been challenged from within to start doing a better job of responding to the desperate needs of the world around them in God’s name. (more…)

This is taken from Episcopal Life Online:

The mornings are dark, pitch black until after most of us have begun our days. The hints of dawn in the eastern sky, those streaks of rose and pink that promise more and brighter light, bring hope even in the dark mid-winter. Where do you look for that kind of hope borne on slim rays of light?

Jesus is already abroad, even in the darkness. The hungry one fed, the street people who have their feet cared for, the humble and honored guest at your dinner table — each one offers a glimpse of that dawn, if you look closely enough.

What we have waited long for, ages and eons for, has been born among us. He comes among us quietly, almost stealthily, in an obscure barn, long ago. This child holds all our hope for light. This tiny frame seems too frail to bear our yearning. Yet the nations come streaming to this light even before he is weaned. The divine has come to dwell in our midst, and God’s eternal promise of peace, restoration, and home is made flesh.

Where and how will you seek out this light of the world? In what other frail frames will light expunge darkness? The light grows with our own eager searching, light reaching out to light, divine reflection yearning for its source. May the light of Christ light your way in the darkness, may his light spread through nations besieged by war and hunger, may we continue to search out his light in the dark places of our own hearts.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church