Blessings and Peace to the Saint John’s Community.

Lisa is off on vacation, rest, and re-creation.

This past couple of weeks I have finished reading two new release books from the greater Episcopal Church Community. I highly recommend both of them.

The first, The Church Cracked Open, by the Reverend Stephanie Spellers who serves on the Presiding Bishop Curry’s Staff. Many of you might have met her this past 18 months on ZOOM, particularly on the work of dismantling racism. She writes in her intro:

God is breaking open this church and pouring us out—pouring out privilege, pouring out empire, pouring out racism and human arrogance—in order to remake us and use us to serve God’s dream for the whole world.  

Be warned: the more you learn about Jesus, the more you’ll realize what a risk taker he was. He constantly embraced failure, broke unjust rules, forgave those who trespassed against him, built alternative communities of love, and prioritized the witness and needs of the least empowered. Eventually, he took up the cross and lost his life in order to gain even greater life.

Spellers, Stephanie. The Church Cracked Open. Church Publishing, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I have known Stephanie for several years; she has been to Minnesota often, and I appreciate her passion, candor, and specificity. She has been very involved in the Sacred Ground ministry of the church and much of this new book mirrors the conversations that we at St John’s have been having this past season of COVID.

My second recommendation is The Art of Disruption, by the Reverend Paul Fromberg. Paul is the current rector of Saint Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. Saint Gregory has been a center of liturgical renewal for the past 20 years or so, and an incubator of both innovation and traditional renewal. This book is subtitled “Improvisation and The Book of Common Prayer”. Paul writes that the art of disruption is like a computer hacker, making something new from a common language, and in this case The Book of Common Prayer. He writes further:

The celebration of the liturgy is alive not because we try to manufacture a certain feeling, but because we give ourselves over to the immediacy of the liturgy. Worship is more like a birthday dinner than it is like a trip to the theater. We don’t ask people to willingly suspend their disbelief in the liturgy or hold make-believe ideas about themselves or the world around them. We ask people to come with their gifts and abilities and make church together. The core value of popular liturgy means that we invite as many people to make the liturgy as we can.

No matter what direction liturgical revision goes, it must be in the direction of love. The liturgy is worth disrupting. Our worship deserves improvisation. And everything that comes from our work must be offered to God who loves and does not hate, and welcomes everyone to join the chorus of praise that rings through eternity. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Fromberg, Paul. The Art of Disruption. Church Publishing, Inc. Kindle Edition.

Bishop Loya has repeatedly guided us that the renewal of the church is tied hand in hand to dismantling racism and engaging the Way of Love. He asks us, where have you seen God working in this current wilderness of virus and racism? Both new powerful and provocative books are guideposts along that Way of Love. I encourage you to place them near the top of your summer reading list.

Blessings and Peace

Rex