Much of this struck me on the side of my head in the same manner as Brian McLaren’s recent book Do I Stay Christian. I encourage you to read this profound challenging book in the spirit of our current work on sustainability and mission.
The article also poked me to look again at my ordination vows, the sacred promises all Episcopal Clergy make, specifically:
You are to make Christ and his redemptive love known, by your word and example, to those among whom you live, and work, and worship. You are to interpret to the Church the needs, concerns, and hopes of the world. … At all times, your life and teaching are to show Christ’s people that in serving the helpless they are serving Christ himself. (BCP)
As a deacon I am committed to be aware and engaged with the wide church, specifically the Episcopal Church, and its health, vitality, and mission. Clearly Lang’s resignation and this honest reflection spoke to me in this wider context, and the challenges we face in postmodern Christianity. Both McLaren and Lang I believe are sending us a wakeup call, and a profound question: Why do we attend and/or participate in a faith community.
Our bishop has committed clergy to engage and support the formation of lay leadership within The Episcopal Church in Minnesota. I believe and trust that responding to the call from the Holy One to repair the breach of a broken world requires a discipleship and ministry of the baptized…the entire Body of Christ. I believe Bishop Loya has us pointed in the right direction.
This week our friend and colleague Rev. Blair Pogue will join us to speak to this challenge. Blair’s graphic below which she might use in her presentation illustrates the organic relationships between Discipleship: Faithful Innovation: Congregational Vitality: Justice
I suggest considering the questions: Where would you place yourself on this wheel? How might you move from that quadrant to the next?
Lang writes in his blog the following:
Most Christians don’t want their thinking challenged. They come to church to reinforce what they’ve believed their entire lives. From their perspective, the job of the pastor is not to push them to grow, but to reassure them that they are already on the right track. Any learning should support the party line and comfort them that their investment of resources in the church will result in a payoff somewhere down the line, particularly once they reach the afterlife.
This is the exact opposite of how I function. Although I always try to end my messages with a sense of hope, my goal was to make you think. Nothing was off limits. I have no problem dismantling the traditional Christian belief system in service of logic and reason, particularly if it helps us make sense of the world. Whereas most pastors eschew nuance in favor of black and white thinking, I believe we discover God’s presence by digging into the complexity of those details.
I suggest that take a few minutes and read Lang’s article in full, and consider the question: What speaks to you in our journey of deep exploration at Saint John’s?
Holden Village Prayer
O God, you have called your servants to ventures
of which we cannot see the ending,
by paths yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.